Linking the Sociological Imagination to the Conscious Consumer

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Response Paper #2: Linking the sociological imagination to the conscious consumerism

Do you want to donate a dollar with your purchase and support this foundation? Did you know that if you purchase one of the clothing items from this product line today, we will be donating a portion of the funds to a great charity? Did you know that this product was made under the provision of high quality standards? All of these questions are valid and hold true to the idea that the issue of conscious or conscientious consumerism and informed donations is among the news as a “hot” topic. This topic has become a social movement that has taken into account, everyone. Everyone has one time or another come across the key question of whether we can shop or donate our way to doing good for society as a whole. Consumers are the target audience for the social movement and their act of purchasing donates power to support the values associated with conscious consumerism.

The main focus that is addressed by the consumption with a conscience range from issues about the environment, worker exploitation, globalization, organic food, and concerns that affect one’s daily lifestyle. This particular social movement is especially popular among the college student population and those of the younger generation like me. On the idea of college, the discussion of Samuel G. Freedman’s, “A Fair Trade Approach to Licensed College Gear” should be reviewed. His article address college gear clothing and questioning whether or not, there is truth behind the fair trade standards during the production of these items. For clothing factories abroad, there is a pressure from American apparel companies to cut prices, even at the expense of those who help operate the production of the said items by lowering wages as well as work conditions. Joe Falcone, the lead man on his own apparel company, Counter Sourcing agrees with the above statement and assures American consumers that the production does compile with labor and environment laws. However, fair trade in this situation can easily be debated.

“Fair-trade apparel” for this college gear asks that college students make social change and do good by feeding into ideas such as Mr. Falcone’s. Students who have believed that the famers’ markets and the use of renewable energy sources are behind the production of the clothing move this effort forward by pressuring the consumer environment with a heavy focus on corporations such as Nike to sell only licensed items that are produced without sweatshop labor. Working with corporations in the act of “fair-trade apparel” gets more publicity and gets individuals to think about conscientious consumerism and whether or not it has a real value in supporting social change. In my opinion, I do not believe that there is any “true” value in purchasing and donating power to support social change because as Freedman quotes Scott Nova, the executive director of the consortium, “it’s impossible for a single small customer to transform a factory into a fair-trade business.” Everyone is always on an outlook for a company that can operate in an ethical way and everybody is against sweatshops but the question is how will you ever know the truth?

Naturally, it is easiest to pay a premium for items that we value deeply, whether it is based on social status, advertising, or our own perception of value, rationally understood or not. We, as a society look to use what we are comfortable with and/or are used to. So under that criterion, attaching a donation to something that may or may not be a social opportunity still comes with the likelihood of the consumer’s willingness to continue with their routine purchases, disregarding any possibility of social change. In addition, this sense of “truth” behind the acts of social change that many seek to believe may also be false because of ambiguous information to the consumer. This argument can relate to four of our class readings: Amy Stewart’s “Pick Your...
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