Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 110, Issue 1, pp 15-32

First online:

Articulating the Meanings of Collective Experiences of Ethical Consumption

  • Eleni PapaoikonomouAffiliated withSchool of Business Management, Universitat Rovira i Virgili Email author 
  • , Mireia ValverdeAffiliated withSchool of Business Management, Universitat Rovira i Virgili
  • , Gerard RyanAffiliated withSchool of Business Management, Universitat Rovira i Virgili

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In the context of the growing popularity of the ethical consumer movement and the appearance of different types of ethical collective communities, the current article explores the meanings drawn from the participation in Responsible Consumption Cooperatives. In existing research, the overriding focus has been on examining individual ethical consumer behaviour at the expense of advancing our understanding of how ethical consumers behave collectively. Hence, this article examines the meanings derived from participating in ethical consumer groups. A qualitative multi-method approach is adopted to increase the validity of findings. This includes focus groups, in-depth interviews, observation and document analysis. Results show that ethical consumption in a group project offers a greater sense of effectiveness and control when compared to individual actions. Furthermore, these groups facilitate the creation of a social circle and encourage new learning as a result of the social interaction that takes place in the ethical community of the cooperative.


Collective consumption Consumer empowerment Cooperatives Ethical consumption Ethical space Meanings of consumption Responsible consumption