Consumer Movements and Value Regimes

This paper, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, was developed in tandem with Johanna Gollnhofer (University of St. Gallen, Switzerland) and John Schouten (MUA, Newfoundland, Canada), offers an upgrade on value and value regime theorization and applies it to the study of consumer movements.

The article’s abstract:

Consumer movements strive to change markets when those markets produce value outcomes that conflict with consumers’ higher-order values. Prior studies argue that consumer movements primarily seek to challenge these value outcomes by championing alternative higher-order values or by pressuring institutions to change market governance mechanisms. Building on and refining theorization on value regimes, this study illuminates a new type of consumer movement strategy where consumers collaborate to construct alternative object pathways. The study draws from ethnographic fieldwork in the German retail food sector and shows how building alternative object pathways allowed a consumer movement to mitigate the value regime’s excessive production of food waste. The revised value regime theorization offers a new and more holistic way of understanding and contextualizing how and where consumer movements mobilize for change. It also provides a new tool for understanding systemic value creation and the role of consumers in such processes.