IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Retrospectives: Consumer Sovereignty


  • Joseph Persky


The term "consumer sovereignty" is usually traced to William Harold Hutt and his 1936 book Economists and the Public: A Study of Competition and Opinion. Hutt paid only passing attention to the maximization of consumer welfare or the achievement of market efficiency. He was stalking different game. For him, the basic issues revolved around the exercise of power in a free society and those issues concerned sovereignty. Why should consumers be given such great power in determining the allocation of resources and the course of production? Hutt's major argument for consumer sovereignty centered on its role in promoting political and social stability. It is unlikely that Hutt's defense of consumer sovereignty will be embraced by the economics profession in the near future. It received only passing attention when first propounded and has largely disappeared from active discussion. Yet I would argue that his approach has a most interesting message.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Persky, 1993. "Retrospectives: Consumer Sovereignty," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 183-191, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:7:y:1993:i:1:p:183-91 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.7.1.183

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Fellner, Wolfgang & Spash, Clive L., 2014. "The Illusion of Consumer Sovereignity in Economic and Neoliberal Thought," SRE-Discussion Papers 4092, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    2. Christian Schubert & Andreas Chai, 2012. "Sustainable Consumption and Consumer Sovereignty," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-14, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    3. Clément, Valérie & Moureau, Nathalie & Vidal, Marion, 2009. "À la recherche des biens sous tutelle," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 85(4), pages 383-401, décembre.
    4. Elodie Brahic & Valérie Clément & Nathalie Moureau & Marion Vidal, 2008. "A la recherche des Merit Goods," Working Papers 08-08, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Jun 2008.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • B21 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Microeconomics
    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:7:y:1993:i:1:p:183-91. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.