New Perspectives of Consumption: The Ecological Consumer
Socius Socius/ISEG-UTL Massamá, Portugal
Ecological consumption includes all collective and individual actions whose impact on the environment tends to be minimised, or rather, oftentimes underestimated. In this research, based on the criterion that ecological consumption contributes to the preservation of the environment, on the whole, we decided to study it with basis on the theory of social representation. Thus, we decided to study the social representation of ecological consumption, as well as, the ecological practices used in an urban area (Greater Lisbon) whose constituents are very diverse through a quantitative survey (530 questionnaires). We also analysed the impact of personal factors (personality, values, types of purchases, health concerns) and environmental ones (publicity, reference groups, opinion leaders and prices) on ecological consumption. Further to this, we studied the impact on environment consciousness.
Through our research we verified that the social representation of ecological consumption conceived by the people questioned is cognitively poor. It is clear that this concept is obviously linked to recycling. This is a subject, which is always in people?s inner thoughts with special connection to Eco-points, packaging and the biodegradable ? elements related to recycling. We also verified that of the personal variables considered only the type of purchases made (rational and impulsive) and health concerns, influence ecological consumption behaviour. On the other hand, we concluded that all the environmental variables considered throughout this study (publicity, reference groups, opinion leaders and prices) influence this type of consumption. Finally, we made a comparative analysis between the social representation of the ecological consumption of a group of ecological consumers and a group of non-ecological consumers. We verified that the representations are different, which leads us to conclude that the social representation of ecological consumption varies depending on the practices adopted (ecological or non-ecological).