Special Issue on Consumer Movements and Activism


Issue Editors: Jay Handelman and Henri Weijo 
Call for Papers | Journal of the Association for Consumer Research | Volume 9, Issue 4


As traditionally conceived, a consumer movement is a concerted effort by activists with a particular concern for a given social and political arrangement to mobilize the power of consumers’ consumption practices into a collective effort to change the prevailing social order. However, 21st century social media fueled consumer activism is challenging this conceptualization. Today, movements and activism are everywhere and increasingly diverse, attracting followers from all walks of life. Consumer activism has become tightly entwined with some of the most consequential social change movements of our time. The #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements feature consumer activism targeting companies and their brands whose corporate practices do not align with demands for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Activism around climate change has given rise to ‘everyday’ activists such as Greta Thunberg who directly link our consumption practices with the declining health of our environment. Growing political polarization and shifts in political ideology further compound societal change pressures, with clear consequences for movements and activism. While consumer movements have traditionally aligned with progressive and liberal ideologies, today we are seeing consumer movements with more diverse political ideological backgrounds pressuring companies to align their brands with – or disavow - certain political interests. These ideological shifts and advances in social media technology fundamentally change the way consumer movements operate and the way consumer activists fight for change.

The purpose of this issue is to investigate how these shifts in the socio-political and technological landscape challenge our understanding of consumer movements and activism. Consumer movements are comprised of various components (e.g., ideologies, technologies, organizations, individuals, emotions, strategies, and tactics) calling for different levels of analysis. This issue seeks to draw on researchers from diverse theoretical and methodological backgrounds in order to explore the range of questions at each level of analysis. Research that draws from field data is especially encouraged, however given the dynamic nature of contemporary consumer movements and activism, all forms of research are welcome including conceptual papers. Each level of analysis introduces a range of research topics and questions.



Check out the full call for papers here:


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