Dissertation Abstracts

Political Consumerism as Political Participation: A mixed-methods, paired-country comparison project with young people in the UK and in Greece

Author: Georgios Kyroglou, ymcgreece@gmail.com
Department: School of Social Sciences, Politics and International Relations Division
University: Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Prof. Matt Henn
Year of completion: 2020
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Young people , Political consumerism , Neoliberalism , Political engagement
Areas of Research: Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change , Political Sociology , Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management


Political consumerism refers to citizens’ use of boycotting and buycotting as they seek to influence political outcomes within the marketplace, rather than through more traditional routes such as voting. It has been widely theorised as a lifestyle form of political participation, which reflects the progressively converging roles of the citizens and the consumers. Young people in particular, are increasingly harnessing their individual consumer power to collectively express their political, ethical, and environmental considerations through their consumer choices. However, the perceived persistence of such a market-oriented form of political participation despite the ongoing financial crisis, calls for a re-evaluation of the underlying motivations, values and orientations of young political consumers.
Given the susceptibility of political consumerism to a neoliberal modus operandi, the lack of literature problematising its emergence in response to the tenets of neoliberalism is somewhat surprising. The present study will thus address this gap by distinguishing between two antithetical, yet complimentary effects. Firstly, the internalised neoliberal critique of democracy emphasises a ‘push’ effect out of the political, and into the commercial sphere. Secondly, the neoliberal emphasis on the effectiveness of the markets, advanced by young people’s postmaterialist sensitivities, calls attention to the existence of a parallel ‘pull’ effect into the marketplace as a locus of political participation.
The overarching aim of this study therefore is to identify and interpret the key drivers underpinning the persisting patterns of political consumerism among young people in Greece and in the UK, using a mixed-methods, paired-country research approach. It initially develops a Political Consumerism Index, a new theoretical tool for the measurement of the phenomenon. It subsequently uses a primarily quantitative research approach, in conjunction with young people’s own insights from a series of focus groups, to provide a comprehensive picture of young people’s political consumption in times of austerity.