Consumer Movement and Consumerism
Michael J Jackson
The History of the Consumer Movement and Consumerism
Consumerism as defined by the dictionary is a modern movement for the protection of the consumer against useless, inferior, or dangerous products, misleading advertising, unfair pricing. Ralph Nader is probably credited as one of the first activist that took consumer rights and the whole consumerism movement to the next level. Nader first came to prominence in 1965 when he wrote a book that took the automotive industry to task for producing unsafe vehicles. Nader was so successful in his crusade to expose the unfair practices of the automotive industry that executives at General Motors hired private detectives to harass him and later forced to publicly apologize for the behavior in front of a Senate hearing. Nader also played a key role in the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Freedom of Information Act and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. All of these government agencies have the primary purpose of maintaining the rights of the consumer to gain access to information about the safety and quality of products that were in the market available for purchase to help consumers make educated purchasing decisions. According to Aaker & Jones (1982), President Kennedy also played a huge role towards advancing the rights of the consumer when he established the four rights of the consumer: the right to safety, to be informed, to chose, and to be heard. Kennedy expanded the right to safety to include the protection of people from themselves, a policy with which there is more disagreement. It is argued that people should not always be permitted to make decisions that are not in their best long-run interests even when such decisions are deliberate and informed.
According to Willis (n.d.), In order to study the history of consumerism in...
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