The coherence of inconsistencies: Attitude–behaviour gaps and new consumption communities

Moraes, Caroline; Carrigan, Marylyn and Szmigin, Isabelle (2012). The coherence of inconsistencies: Attitude–behaviour gaps and new consumption communities. Journal of Marketing Management, 28(1-2) pp. 103–128.



Despite the growing success of well-marketed environmentally-friendly products, there remains a gap between consumers’ positive attitudes toward green issues and products, and their inconsistent and often conflicting consumption behaviour. Indeed, this is a challenge for social marketers seeking to advance the sustainability agenda. Therefore, this study problematises what has been conceptualised as attitude-behaviour gaps (Boulstridge and Carrigan 2000), and explores how groups of consumers have re-construed such practices and their meanings through the formation of New Consumption Communities (Szmigin, Carrigan and Bekin 2007). Multi-sited ethnographic findings illustrate the social processes through which ethical and green forms of consumption are established and normalised. Findings also stress the importance of normative and habitual reframing through ‘ethical spaces’ (Barnett et al. 2005) in establishing and maintaining increased consistency in participants’ consumption meanings, behaviours and goals. Thus, we re-frame attitude-behaviour gaps as coherent inconsistencies, which allows for a move away from solely trying to explain and change individual consumer behaviour, to identifying how suitable upstream and downstream (Verplanken and Wood 2006) approaches and policies can be used to facilitate more sustainable forms of consumption.

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