9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN05 Sociology of Consumption

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Politics of Consumption Building II, C5.01

The consumer boycott in Spain - Theoretical reflections and empirical results

In the past, the job provided the worker with the central axis of the formation of his/her identity, as well as the ability to act as a counterforce by withdrawing the work effort through the organized strike (Beck, 2004: 30). But this role played by work as the basic element in the formation of the individual?s identity has been replaced to a large degree by consumption (Bocock, 1995; Lury, 1996; Alonso, 2005; Bauman, 2007), as the previous dialectic is being increasingly impaired by the lost centrality of work, but also by the new trans-border mobility of capital. Thus, the role of counterforce corresponds more and more to the global civil society, and especially to the figure of the political consumer, whose power stems from the fact that s/he can refuse to purchase at any place and time. This possibility of refusing to buy constitutes a form of political consumerism whose presence has begun to grow in Spanish society in the past few years.
This communication is divided into two main sections. In the first, a review is carried out of the main theoretical proposals based on which the study of the consumer boycott can be approached: i) as a form of political protest (Barnes & Kaase, 1979); ii) as an expression of reflectivity (Beck, Giddens & Lash, 1997), as a means of increasing the feeling of consumer sovereignty (Beck, 1998: 108); and iii) as an exercise in self-expression and a challenge to the characteristic elite in a post-industrial society (Inglehart & Welzel, 2006). In the second part, an examination is made of whether, as the specialized literature has suggested, younger individuals are those who are more willing to perform this type of behaviours (Stolle, Hooghe & Micheletti, 2005; Fraile, Ferrer & Martín, 2007), the participation is greater as the educational level increases (Cainzos, 2006), and there are no differences according to sex (Ferrer, Medina & Torcal, 2006). This second section will be carried out based on the results of a survey taken of 3192 Spanish adults.