Consumption studies have been prominent in the social sciences and humanities for several decades now, and critique of consumption’s ethical energies, in terms of both inherent moralities and explicit responses to ethical trading codes and standards, has become an important part of this literature. Globalizing responsibility: the political rationalities of ethical consumption by Clive Barnett, Paul Cloke, Nick Clarke and Alice Malpass is a very welcome addition to this body of work. Where the book contributes most significantly is through its attention to the conceptualisation of agency in ethical consumption; an objective that appears central to the research project upon which the book is based. The project, which was funded jointly by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council and Arts and Humanities Research Council, used interview-based and focus group research to investigate the politicisation of consumption in Bristol in the south-west of England. This research produced what the authors call ‘talk-data’ (p 21) to advance understanding of just exactly how ethical consumption constitutes a set of political acts. The authors thus build on scholarship viewing ethical consumption as political, but seek more deeply to challenge the often assumed binary of consumer/citizen.
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