Sovereign Citizens and Constrained Consumers: Why Sustainability Requires Limits on Choice
AbstractThere is resistance to policies that would reduce overall consumption levels to promote sustainability. In part, this resistance is aided by the economic concept of consumer sovereignty (CS) and its presumption that choice promotes wellbeing. We investigate the concept of consumer sovereignty in the context of deepening concerns about sustainability and scrutinise whether the two concepts are compatible. We draw on new findings in psychology on human decision-making traits; we take into account increasing awareness about human dependencies on 'functioning' ecosystems and uncertainties on how ecosystems, human activities and human wellbeing are interlinked. We conclude that commitment to the concept of consumer sovereignty is incompatible with sustainability due to human characteristics, the difficult-to-predict behaviour of ecological systems and ignorance about the impact of human action on natural systems. We propose that the choice-set of available goods and services on markets should be constrained when consumption patterns can be linked to degradation of services provided by nature when those services are seen as crucial for human wellbeing. We advocate constraining the available choice-set through established governmental institutions aided by deliberative processes that engage members of the general public. Finally, we acknowledge that such processes are imperfect; nevertheless, we foresee that they will be essential for fostering wise decision-making and moving towards sustainability.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by White Horse Press in its journal Environmental Values.
Volume (Year): 22 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.erica.demon.co.uk
Consumer sovereignty; decision-making traits; human impact on ecosystems; uncertainty; ignorance; deliberative decision-making;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
- A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
- D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
- H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
- D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
You can help add them by filling out this form.
reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statistics
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Andrew Johnson).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.