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30 October 2021
Ethical and Political Consumerism in Tourism
Overview of the special issue
As an emerging form of civic activism and political engagement, political consumerism has become more widespread in recent years. This is evidenced by the growth in consumer purchasing (buycott) or not purchasing (boycott) practices of products, brands and services on the basis of their political or ethical characteristics (e.g., country/place-of-origin, sustainability, social justice, fair-trade, corporate responsibility, animal welfare or, more recently, lifestyle choices such as veganism) (Klein, Smith, & John, 2004; Micheletti, Follesdal, & Stolle, 2008; Baek, 2010; Boström, Micheletti, & Oosterveer, 2019). Individuals, civil society groups, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are widely engaged in encouraging political consumerism with the goal of changing institutions, organizations, or social conditions that are found ethically, environmentally, or politically desired or objectionable (Rössel & Schenk, 2018).
The growth of political consumerism highlights “the growing understanding among citizens—especially young people—of ‘the politics behind products’ and the ‘complex social and normative context’ (i.e., late capitalism, neoliberalism, economic globalisation) in which production and day-to-day consumption occurs” (Nonomura, 2017, p. 236), as well as the impact of social media adoption on political behaviour. Thus, as Stolle and Micheletti (2013, p. 2) note, political consumption has become “an attempt to establish new modes of political participation based on individualized responsibility-taking.”
As a complex multilevel phenomenon, political consumerism has become an area of increasing research across a variety of disciplines and has generated academic interest among scholars in political science, political sociology, sustainability, human geography, consumer behavior, and macro- and social marketing. Despite such growth of interest, the tourism literature still lacks the development of studies of specific forms of political consumerism and practices within a tourism context. This is surprising given tourism can also be ‘commodified’ and become an arena for ‘political consumer actions’ (Boström et al., 2019) and political and ethical consumerism are an important feature of the global tourism system and the emerging ethics of tourism (Verbeek & Mommaas, 2008; Hall, 2011; Lamers, Nawijn, & Eijgelaar, 2019; Seyfi & Hall, 2020). There are also specific practices of political and ethical consumption within a tourism context including sustainable consumption, climate change, slow travel, conservation tourism, and voluntourism that have a strong ethical and political consumerism dimension (Lamers et al., 2019). Furthermore, the boycotting of destinations and tourism businesses appears to be on the increase and destinations and businesses have been boycotted for a variety of reasons, including human rights (e.g. Myanmar, China, South Africa, Saudi Arabia), treatment and policy towards LGBTs or minorities and communities (e.g., Mississippi and North Carolina cases of anti-LGBT laws), violations of animal welfare and rights (e.g. Botswana & Namibia), and inappropriate environmental actions (Shaheer, Insch, & Carr, 2018; Shaheer, Carr, & Insch, 2019). Depending on their level of consumer support, boycotts may have direct (e.g., reduction in visitors), or indirect (e.g., negative images), adverse impacts on a destination, attraction or a tourism service provider, highlighting the need to understand this phenomenon better (Tolkach, 2018; Yousaf, 2019; Girish et al., 2020).
In response to the growing practices of ethical and political consumerism as an individual consumer action and interest group tactic and increasingly multifaceted phenomenon of political consumerism, this special issue aims to offer a thorough exploration of the political and ethical consumerism phenomenon and help map out the current state of knowledge on political and ethical consumer actions within tourism context.
This special issue welcomes theoretical, empirical, experimental, and case study research contributions from a wide range of disciplinary and post-disciplinary perspectives. These contributions should clearly address the theoretical and practical implications of the research. Both conceptual and empirical work are welcome.
Topics of interest of the special issue include, but are not limited to:
- Coping strategies to boycotts: Destinations and businesses
- Impacts of boycotts and political consumerism on tourism demand
- Boycotts, buycotts and tourism
- Social, cultural and economic perspectives on political consumerism
- Political consumerism and the social practice perspective
- Food consumption (e.g., veganism, animal rights) and lifestyle political consumerism
- Role of media in political consumerism
- Political food consumerism
- Political consumerism and brands
- Mass consumption and political consumerism
- Religious identity in political consumerism
- Political consumerism and sustainable tourism
- Boycotts: evolution and the growth of consumer activism
- The role of interest groups in boycotts
- Boycotts and tourism events
- Case studies of boycotts and campaigns: Reasons, responses and impacts
- The significance of intermestic issues: Environment and human rights
- Consumer activism as upstream social marketing
- Anthropogenic climate change, biodiversity and boycotts
- Methodological issues in examining ethical and political consumerism
- Emerging issues in ethical and political consumerism
- Boycotts and corporate social responsibility
- Governmental responses to ethical and political consumerism
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Expressions of interest in contributing a paper to this special issue are invited in the form of a working title and 450-500 words indicative abstract of your proposed paper by 28th February 2021, to be submitted by e-mail to Guest Editors (see emails above). Abstracts should include the title, authorship, author affiliation(s) and contact information (including the email addresses of all authors) and keywords (maximum six).
Abstracts submissions: 28th February 2021
Abstract decisions: 1st April 2021
Full paper submissions: 30th October 2021
Publication: Early 2022
Each paper submitted for publication consideration is subjected to the standard review process designated by Tourism Recreation Research journal. Based on the recommendations of the reviewers, the Editor-in-chief along with the guest editors, decisions will be made whether particular submissions will be accepted, revised or rejected.
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