Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 351-375

First online:

Ethical Consumption, Values Convergence/Divergence and Community Development

  • Michael A. LongAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Oklahoma State University Email author 
  • , Douglas L. MurrayAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Colorado State University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Ethical consumption is on the rise, however little is known about the degree and the implications of the sometime conflicting sets of values held by the broad category of consumers who report consuming ethically. This paper explores convergence and divergence of ethical consumption values through a study of organic, fair trade, and local food consumers in Colorado. Using survey and focus group results, we first examine demographic and attitudinal correlates of ethical consumption. We then report evidence that while many organic, fair trade, and local food consumers converge around similar values, some Colorado consumers support only local food, while opposing the consumption of organic and fair trade products. Next, we investigate how ethical consumers who converge and diverge frame their commitment to consuming ethically. The discussion and conclusion suggest that community development planners of projects that focus on ethical consumption will need to successfully traverse issues stemming from convergence and divergence to enjoy long-term sustained success.


Ethical consumption Convergence Organic Fair trade Local food