Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Self-Image and Ethical Consumption

I have argued elsewhere that buying organic and green products feeds into consumers’ self image. Alex Rehding asks if that means there aren't any extrinsic benefits. Sure, image can come to overshadow the substance (and our hyper-capitalism seems to encourage those sorts of perverse incentives). But, like buying a BMW, say, one cannot really fully disentangle the luxury/status angle from the more or less objective mechanical and engineering qualities. And since self-image w organic is tied to making real changes, I actually see some political potential there.
In fact, at the wider level of promoting civic virtue (I know, I know, it sounds so 19th century, but a modern, tolerant, multiculti version of civic, not religious, virtues) it can be powerful. We need to recalibrate the societal balance between self-interests and common goods, and that will require such new civic virtues, even if their privatized consumptive aspect is troubling

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