Purchase power: An examination of consumption as voting

Moraes, Caroline; Shaw, Deirdre and Carrigan, Marylyn (2011). Purchase power: An examination of consumption as voting. Journal of Marketing Management, 27(9-10) pp. 1059–1079.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2011.565726


There has been a reported increase in political activity through the marketplace in the form of ‘consumer votes’. The use of marketplace votes by consumers to address their concerns about societal issues is a phenomenon that has growing relevance for firms, since they are often affected by such consumer citizenship. Therefore, this paper aims to enhance our conceptual understanding of the consumer voting phenomenon. It explores marketplace power relations and the constraints and enabling mechanisms they may pose to consumers seeking change through consumer voting. Consumer voting practices, consumer sovereignty discourses, and power tensions in marketplace encounters are examined in relation to Foucault’s notions of power, technologies of the self, and governmentality. Foucault provides a critical lens to illuminate the potential for consumer resistance, an approach that so far has been somewhat neglected by the extant marketing and consumer research literature.

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