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Open innovation methods to co-operate for CC? 6

Marlen Arnold 6

“Fish & Kids” – AN MSC project to bring sustainable seafood to schools and restaurants 6

Author: Marnie Bammert 6

Towards sustainable consumption: A framework for a houshold environmental management system. 10

Pedro Baptista and Nuno Videira 10

New alliances among food production and consumption. Which co-operation for which policies? Empirical support from a survey of 800 consumers. 16

Elena Battaglini 16

Gender empowerment in Nepal for sustainable development. Bhatt C.R., Joshi O., Koirala B., Pokhrel A., Ween B. and Dhakal HP. 24


How to achieve the environmental objectives in different cultures Joanna Boboryko, Marta Dawidziuk and Barbara Mazur 31

Is water always in balance? A work activity for the education of the sustainable consumption from creativity and body expression. (Poster) 40

Josep Bonil, Genina Calafell, Marta Fonolleda, Maia Querol, Salvador Viciana 40

The Green Economy Initiative: A new approach to financial and environmental challenges - why multifunctional development is the way forward and the link to sustainable consumption 47

Elisabeth Kjerstad Bøe 47

Life Values as the Basis for the Formation of a Citizen 47

Zoja Chehlova and Mikhail Chehlov 47

Integrating Education for Sustainable Development in pre service teacher education – opportunities and challenges Amanda Mc Cloat and Helen Maguire 52

Psychometric evaluation of child eating behaviour: a tool to improve education regarding children’s food consumption Luís Miguel Cunha, Ana Pinto de Moura and Ana Sofia Almeida 53

The integration of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into second level initial teacher education (ITE) and continuing professional development (CPD) programmes: Challenges and Opportunities Mella Cusack 54

Education for Sustainable Development in Action: The use of visual media to promote transformative learning. Mella Cusack and Miriam O’Donoghue 54

The Financial Crisis and Consumer Citizenship 55

Arthur Lyon Dahl 55

Consumer Governance 61


Peter Daub 61

Consumer Citizens as Leading Innovators – Enhancing Value Creation Potential through Consumer-Consumer-Interaction 65

Benjamin Diehl and Ulf Schrader 65

New Communication Technologies And The Co-operation Between Producers And Consumers 74

V. Dimitrova and T. Atanasova 74

Proposal for a european joint master in consumer affairs “EMICA” 81

Victor Dordio 81

An EPIC(A) adventure towards a consumer citizenship education: the birth of an Intensive Programme (Poster) 88

Alcina Dourado 88

Critical Thinking and Active Learning 89

Tove Brita Eriksen 89

CSR-Mainstreaming and its Influence to Consumer Citizenship 99

Vera Fricke and Ulf Schrader 99

Transdisciplinary Consumer Citizenship Education 108

Sue L.T. Mc Gregor 108

";Consumer Citizenship as an Element of the European Social and Economic Dialogue (the venues of R&D interdisciplinary clusters)"; Kostadin Grozev 125

An Exploratory Framework for Consumer Citizenship Education in Japan’s Home Economics Curriculum 125

Rieko Hanashiro, Lakshmi Malroutu and Diane Masuo 125

Potential contribution from international educational programs to Environmental Awareness and Political Interaction Inger Haug 135

Consumptions and lifestyles in the press 136

Susana Henriques 136

Windows of opportunity for sustainable consumption: The de-routinization effect of life events Melanie Jaeger and Martina Schaefer 141

Making a difference in the learning process 142

Aloida Jurcenko, Inese Patapova, Zenija Truskovska and Velta Lubkina 142

Consumer Citizenship Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education in Latvia 152

Inese Jurgena and Zigurds Mikainis 152

Marketing Communication to and with Net Citizens: Targeting by Means of a Social Network Analysis Approach 161

Martin Klaus, Jörg Schwerdtfeger & Ralf Wagner 161

Education for sustainable development: The case of traditional life skills among the Nama people, Namibia. Jørgen Klein 176

Examining chosen attitudes of consumers during the 4th year of the decade for sustainable development in poland 177

Joanna Kostecka and Barbara Mazur 177


Eija Kuoppa-aho, Malin Lindquist Skogar 178

Teaching Student teachers and high school students on Education for Consumer Citizenship in Greece 185

Konstantina Koutrouba, Helen Theodoropoulou and Konstadia Barda 185

Abstract 185

One eco-action in a day 193

Leena K. Lahti 193

Fair Trade and donations: Two possibilities to contribute to poverty alleviation in daily purchase decisions - Do consumers care? Nina Langen, Carola Grebitus and Monika Hartmann 195

Using creative instruments for promoting sustainable citizenship 204

Satu Lähteenoja, Burcu Tunçer and Marja Salo 204

LOLA – One of the creative approaches to the consumer citizenship educaton 212

Iveta Lice and Vija Dislere 212

Beyond Words: Designing Rituals to Promote Sustainable Ways of Living Jan Lindenberg 223

Development the Feeling of Personal Identity as a Key Factor of Formation of the Citizen 224

Marina Marchenoka and Anna Tatarinceva 224


Marino Melissano, CTRRC, Italy 233

Illegally Sweet 234

Andrea Mendoza 234

The UNEP Global Environmental Citizenship Project and the Participation of Latin American Consumer Organizations 240

Luis Flores Mimica 240


Viola Muster, Ulf Schrader 242

Understanding the role of Printed Media in the social amplification of food risk during the new millennium 248

Ana Pinto de Moura and Luís Miguel Cunha 248

Consumer Empowerment in the Digital Era 256

A case study of ICT-enabled processes in South Africa and Norway 256

Martin Nkosi Ndlela, 256

Ecological literacy level and meaning of sustainability among college students 263

Anupama Pasricha 263

The Eco GO Beyond Schools Sustainable Development Programme of MAS Holdings in Sri Lanka 275

Amanti Perera 275

";Enabling consumers to change the market: a practice of participation in the decision making process"; 276

Emanuela Rinaldi 276

Creativity in Consumer Citizenship Education in the Blended Course of English for Specific Purposes at University 276

Diana Rumpite 276

Sustainable Berlin: The importance of infrastructural context for sustainable consumption 277

Martina Schäfer and Adina Herde 277

Me and the Other's project: Citizenship Education through playful 278

Ana Filipa Soledade and Susana Henriques 278

Consumer protection society in Syria: action, challenges and future directions. 283

Ghiath M Sumainah 283

Green consumption – a state responsibility? 283

Ingrid Sælensminde 283

Teaching Universities Students on Education for Consumer Citizenship 292

Helen Theodoropoulou and Despina Sdrali 292

Seize the opportunity: The importance of timing for breaking commuters’ car driving habits 298

John Thøgersen 298

Using fashion as a platform to engage & excite 7

Tone Skårdal Tobiassen 7

Understanding Teachers' Consumer and Environmental Behaviours Gregor Torkar 14

OECD Policy Guidance on Consumer Education 27

Yuko Ueno 27

Motivation for sustainable lifestyle or the importance of “how” Fani Uzunova 27

What kind of research is necessary for the development of consumer citizenship education and education for sustainable consumption? 28

Pia Valota 28


Experience Training of Trainers for a sustainable forest development 30

Carmen Varese and Marta Pini 30

Effects of Personal Carbon Trading 31

Annika Varnäs, Björn Nykvist, 31

Experience of promoting consumer education in Estonia 38

Tiina Vänt and Jana Tamm 38

From Consumer to Stakeholder Citizenship: A Model towards ‘World Citizenship’ for Lesser Developed Countries 44

Müberra Yüksel and Sevgi Kalkan 44

Open innovation methods to co-operate for CC?

Marlen Arnold

Meanwhile a multiplicity of enterprises accepts the challenge of sustainability and integrates sustainable requirements in their daily activities. Open innovation methods such as stakeholder dialogues, (open) innovation workshops, ideas competition, web-communities and tool-kits can improve the co-operation between producers and consumers. All these methods are special practices, in which companies discuss particular and/or structural problems that (can) result from business activities or develop new products or services with the relevant consumers or stakeholders. In the context of sustainability open innovation methods have several goals:

  • mutually understanding of positions and interests

  • finding and discussing realisable solutions

  • legitimating of corporate responsibility

  • selection of reliable or sustainable decisions, BUT also

  • hold-up of decisions as well as generation of uncertainty.

A great advantage of open innovation methods is the possibility to enlarge the knowledge base and to open perspectives in ad-hoc or continuous communication with consumers and stakeholders. This can open up sustainability oriented corporate learning as well as consumer citizenship. However, these open innovation methods have a different dialogue orientation and a different level of participation and therefore diverse possibilities to support a sustainable development and a responsible consumption.

This study highlights the strengths and weaknesses of selected open innovation methods and methods in the field of sustainability and the necessary conditions for consumer citizenship on the basis of an empirical analysis of 13 German-based companies. The study analyses factors for the improving of co-operation, the occurrence of sustainable learning and the creativity regarding innovation.

Dr. Marlen Arnold, Technische Universität München
Professur für Betriebswirtschaftslehre. Brau- und Lebensmittelindustrie
lte Akademie 14, 85350 Freising
Tel. +49-(0)8161/ 71 4472
Tel. +49-(0)163-8200733
Fax. +49-(0)8161/ 71 3209

ice: 119 Altenburg Gardens London SW11 1JQ Registered Charity No. 1066806

“Fish & Kids” – AN MSC project to bring sustainable seafood to schools and restaurants

Author: Marnie Bammert

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

Schwedter Straße 9a

10119 Berlin


Tel.: +49 30 8849 7008

Email: marnie.bammert@

About the MSC

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an independent charity, set up in 1999 as part of the solution to worldwide overfishing. The MSC’s vision is of the world’s oceans teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations. We aim to achieve this by using our eco-label and fishery certification programme to recognise and reward sustainable fishing practices, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood, and working with our partners to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis – more information at .

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), over ¼ of the world’s fish stocks are overfished and more than ½ are fished to their biological limit (FAO 2008). Seafood is important to millions of people around the globe and thus encouraging the next generation to eat sustainable fish and understand the importance of sustainable fishing is vital.

MSC’s “Fish & Kids” Project

In 2005, the MSC’s Fish & Kids project was initiated in the United Kingdom thanks to support from Defra’s Environmental Action Fund. It was designed to work with suppliers and school meal providers to encourage and promote sustainable seafood served in schools as well as to educate school children on marine issues.

On the one hand, MSC teamed up with a large foodservice distributor to encourage Local Education Authorities (LEAs) get involved in the Fish & Kids project. Foodservice distributors supply LEAs with meals and are thus key in approaching the school sector. The aim was to get as many schools as possible sign up for Fish & Kids and offer sustainably caught and MSC-labelled fish to their kids. In order to use the MSC label, school kitchens have to become certified to the MSC’s traceability standard so they can prove that fish with the MSC logo actually comes from a fishery that fulfils the MSC’s environmental standard.

On the other hand, MSC developed comprehensive education material to help teachers integrate basic knowledge about fish, overfishing, sustainable fishing practices and consumption in their lessons. The education pack was developed to match the national curriculum and can be built into various subjects such as English, History and Geography. Activity and discussion sheets help teachers design their lessons. Fish & Kids also features an interactive website holding additional teaching resources and fun games. The website was developed to complement the education pack and can be viewed at .

MSC supported participating schools in launching Fish & Kids through advice on how best to become certified, how to inform their staff and pupils about sustainable options on their menu, though a template press kit, a life-sized mascot called “Murdock, the fisherman’s cat” and a launch event for press, staff, pupils and parents.

Through the project, schools put their purchasing on a more sustainable basis and taught their children about the crisis in our oceans and the positive solution the MSC offers.

Capacity building in the UK foodservice sector and the supply chain

In order to be able to offer MSC-labelled seafood to their guests, restaurants themselves need to be able to buy fish from MSC-certified fisheries. In 2005, foodservice and catering businesses like restaurants, pubs and schools had the choice of only five MSC-certified products, all frozen, available from two foodservice suppliers. In 2008, this had increased to around 18 certified suppliers offering a diverse range of more than 140 MSC-labelled products. Many products have been developed especially for the schools market and include salmon fish fingers, plain fish and fish pie mix.

Participation of foodservice outlets, schools and restaurants

Most notably, success has been achieved in the cost sector, focusing on the primary education market through the Fish & Kids project. 18 school meal providers and their 2,600 schools are covered by the MSC’s Chain of Custody certification, which ensures traceability of certified seafood from boat to plate and allows schools to use the MSC logo to highlight sustainable lunch choices. At current projections 25% of UK schools will be involved by the end of 2009.

There has been some real progress in the commercial sector, with successful certification of a national chain of sandwich shops and several ‘high end’ restaurants. 133 ‘Pret a Manger’ sandwich shops sell an MSC-labelled sandwich, three hotels offer MSC-certified brasserie menus and seven independent restaurants promote MSC options.

As raw material increases as fisheries important for the foodservice industry in the UK begin to achieve MSC certification, it will become even easier for foodservice suppliers to provide the relevant products. There has been a change in attitude of the fishing industry in the UK towards the MSC. Voluntary certification to the MSC standard is seen less as a threat, and more as an opportunity nowadays.

Awareness and buying behaviour of Local Education Authority (LEA) buyers

For the purposes of this project, LEA buyers have been classified as the key audience. The buyers make the decisions about what items are listed on the menus and thus they hold the key to millions of fish meals every year. The evidence presented here highlights that the MSC and the Fish & Kids project has offered buyers a real opportunity. They are increasingly aware of and buying certified sustainable seafood. Highlights from a telephone survey of LEA buyers, carried out in 2006 and 2008, are listed below:

  • Unprompted recall of MSC as an organisation supporting socially or environmentally sound food rose from 0% in 2006 to 13% in 2008.

  • In 2006, 12% of the sample could correctly identify the logo as belonging to MSC. In 2008 this has doubled to 25%, significantly higher than the general population.

  • In 2006, 15% of sample had bought MSC products for the schools they supply with meals and in 2008, this had increased enormously to 36%.

MSC logo-ed products now have a secure long term place on menus in the sector, and the continuing support of foodservice distributors will continue to expand penetration and distribution.

Engagement of schools, children and families

Over 800,000 children in the UK are being offered MSC labelled seafood at school and see the MSC logo on their menus. More than 2,300,000 school menu leaflets have been circulated to families featuring the MSC logo to show best practice in seafood sourcing. Seeing the logo in this way informs families of MSC and may, at the same time, increase the sustainability of fish buying when doing the family shopping.

An online survey was undertaken for the MSC by YouGov in March 2006 to measure the prompted awareness of the MSC logo. This was repeated in March 2007 and 2008 to track the year on year change.

The sample was representative of all Great Britain adults, and there were 2423 responses in 2006, 2352 in 2007 and 2187 in 2008.

The MSC logo was compared against three other food certification marks. Results are shown above. Encouragingly, MSC logo awareness has increased by 50% and in 2008, 9% of the sample recognized the logo from 6% in 2006. Amongst the other logos there has been no consistent positive trend, so although MSC logo recognition levels are still low in comparison, this change is encouraging. It should also be noted that nearly 40% of respondents recognised none of these 4 logos (similar each year).

In terms of the demographic analysis, the key points to note from 2008 survey are:

  • MSC awareness slightly higher among women than men (9% vs 8%).

  • Variance by age group has increased in the 2008 survey, showing 55+ age group soaring to 10% recognition

  • Awareness in London is 15%, highest of all areas, with rest of the south a high 10%. These categories may have been positively affected by Fish & Kids activity, since the project developed quicker in the south of the country.

Next steps

The Fish & Kids project has proven that big steps can be made in a relatively short time scale and that there are lots of opportunities to influence behaviour of the industry and the UK public.

With the help of the PostkodStiftelsen (the Swedish Postcode Lottery Foundation), the project will now be rolled out in Sweden. As well as working with local education authorities and foodservice providers to introduce MSC-certified seafood to school lunches and put the logo on school menus, Fish & Kids’ education resources will be adapted to suit Swedish schools. Other countries have indicated their interest in this project and MSC is currently scoping opportunities for a wider adoption of Fish & Kids.

Towards sustainable consumption: A framework for a houshold environmental management system.

Pedro Baptista and Nuno Videira

Pedro Baptista1, Nuno Videira2


2 ECOMAN - Ecological Economics and Environmental Management Group, CENSE – Center for Environmental and Sustainability Research, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, New University of Lisbon, Quinta da Torre, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal.

Tel.: +351 2948300



The encouragement of proactive behavior from consumers is vital to promote a sound implementation of sustainable production and consumption policies. To address this challenge, this paper explores an innovative framework supporting the conceptualization of a tool to evaluate and continuously improve the environmental performance of households - the Household Environmental Management System (HEMaS).

One of the distinguishing features of the analysis is the consideration of rebounding effects, which was facilitated by the use of indicators of environmental impacts per euro of products. Unlike conventional simulators of environmental impacts of private consumption, the proposed framework considers all consumption and not only priority categories. In this way, the rebound effect is considered, which promotes the environmental optimization of the application of disposable income, as opposed to a simple “reduction of consumption” policy. HEMaS receives input data on expenditures and household activities, and then generates an environmental profile and personalized measures for improving household environmental performance. The paper concludes with a discussion on the potential advantages and limitations of the tool in supporting sustainable consumption policies and voluntary adoption of performance improvement measures by responsible consumers.


Today’s society is facing a major challenge on its quest for sustainability and we are living in a moment of social, economic and ecological unrest. In many parts of the world the welfare is not increasing, the gap between rich and poor is rising, the markets are facing great instability, and natural resources are being over-exploited (Sanne, 2007).

According to Sanne (2007), the efforts put on environmental policies have only brought marginal ecological improvements in contrast with what is said by the political discourse, given the fact that the persisting political-economic paradigm is still one of unfettered economic growth. Within this context, there is a particular need to rethink strategies to address the growing levels of production and consumption (TNO et al., 2008).

In spite of economic growth our quality of life has not improved (Sanne, 2007), so it is crucial to redefine progress working more closely with consumers. The encouragement of proactive behavior from consumers is vital to promote a sound implementation of sustainable production and consumption policies. According to the Eurobarometer (DGE, 2008) the main challenge at the consumer level is to translate the Europeans’ green attitudes into environmentally friendly behaviour and concrete actions. This paper will address this issue by presenting a tool (Baptista, 2008) – HEMaS, Household Environmental Management System, to assist households in improving their environmental performance with respect to consumption practices, based on an innovative analytical framework which accounts for rebound effects1.

Section 2 of this paper briefly presents the rebound effect and develops the analytical framework that supports the conceptualization of HEMaS (Section 3). On Section 4 we discuss the potential advantages and limitations in implementing HEMaS.


The rebound effect is a major concern of environmental policy and for the pursuit of sustainability. The rebound happens every time environmental gains from increasing efficiency are offset by the consequential rise on demand for goods and services. Thus, technological progress is not sufficient for promoting sustainable development (Sanne, 2000; Binswanger, 2001), since the prevalent economic paradigm will tend to the limits of exploration of Earth’s resources.

Hence it is fundamental that environmental policies combine technological progress with sustainable lifestyles and quality of life improvement (Herring & Roy, 2007). The rebound effects are significant and should be considered on the designing of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) policies (Sanne, 2000). Within this context, focusing on the role of consumers is expected to leverage the effectiveness of policies, avoiding rebound effects (EEA, 2008). This background suggests the need for a new and more holistic (TNO et al., 2008) framework for sustainability analysis of SCP policies.

In line with these arguments, Sanne (2000) presented a roadmap with some options to avoid the rebound effect, which may be translated in the following consumer-oriented guidelines:

  • Reduction of working hours to limit production and to improve the quality of life;

  • Reduction of the environmental impacts per euro (EI/€) of products through increased efficiency, administrative and economic means;

  • Redirection of consumption from environmental harmful products to more friendly ones.

The redirection of consumption will be the basic idea supporting the concept of the tool presented in the next section. The analytical framework will harness the power of the consumer as an influential player in the market. Hence, this approach does not focus on objectives of “consumption reduction”. When households are encouraged to buy fewer products, the money saved will be eventually spent in “future consumption”. Even when the money is placed on banks or stocks it is translated in further investment and productivity (Wapner & Willoughby, 2005). So, in order to deal with the substitution and income effects (rebounds) it should be considered the budget constraints of consumers (Binswanger, 2001).

The actual net environmental gains of SCP policies and measures are dependent of the types of products that are replaced (e.g. substitution of travels by train with car due to its efficiency improvements), by products that are purchased with the financial savings, and the readjustment of the whole economy. To this extent, the consumers’ financial resources should shift from the consumption of certain products to others with less EI/€. This approach is potentially valuable at a micro level but to define concrete actions at a macro level it requires a better comprehension of the environmental impacts (EI) of various activities and their price and income elasticities (Sanne, 2000).


Similarly to environmental management systems’ standards, which are designed for organizations (e.g. ISO 14001 and the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme), HEMaS aims, in this case, to evaluate and continuously improve environmental performance of households. Furthermore, HEMaS is different from conventional ecological and carbon footprints simulators as it considers all consumed goods and services and not only the commonly agreed priority categories. This approach has two advantages:

  • It manages better the redirection of consumption to minimize the EI from the application of household’s disposable income. What matters is the difference of EI between the products substituted, either by reducing or promoting consumption;

  • It has potential to serve as a platform for the operationalization of sustainability strategies (e.g. linked with markets of environmental compensation, management of data and of information on organizations’ environmental accounting).

It was defined as the main objective for HEMaS to environmentally optimize the application of household’s disposable income on the consumption of various products. In this perspective the use of indicators of EI/€ of product proved to be fundamental. Such indicators are already used to translate the intensity of resource use. However, little has been explored as a means to overcome the problems posed by the rebound effects.

HEMaS is a systemic tool which uses data on consumption patterns and on certain household activities as an input, generating environmental performance information and concrete proposals for action as outputs. It monitors household consumption patterns, behaviour and respective EI. After this procedure a consumer profile is analyzed to produce an action plan to be reported. This cyclic operation of HEMaS provides all elements necessary for the continuous environmental improvement. The timescale of this cyclical process is flexible (e.g. monthly, quarterly) depending on the specific objectives of the initiative. HEMaS is composed of five steps: 1) characterization of a household expenditure patterns; 2) characterization of consumer activities; 3) evaluation of the associated EI; 4) assessment of the measures’ significance; 5) communication of an action plan.

The structure and detail of the characterization of a household expenditure patterns (step1) must be in accordance with the study provider of EI/€ data. The use of reference classifications like COICOP (Classification of Individual Consumption According to Purpose) minimizes errors from allocation of data. Additionally, the number of classes of products considered depends also on the initiative’s objectives. The characterization of the expenditure patterns may be obtained through questionnaires (online or personal), or through methods of automatic monitoring. If only questionnaires are used the number of categories that may be monitored is more limited. Therefore, the automatic monitoring option is more promising although it requires a major infrastructure. Nevertheless both options can be complementary allowing the gradual expansion of the infrastructure for automatic monitoring. For example, at an inception stage of HEMaS implementation, some data on household expenses may be obtained through a dedicated credit card, or through customers’ accounts of various retailers.

The second step of HEMaS has two purposes: a) to consider the variability of the EI of products according to the household practices (e.g. sending or not a product for recycling); b) to provide a more functional perspective of consumption by distributing key products (e.g. water, energy) through household activities (e.g. washing, watching TV). This last feature allows for a better analysis of a household profile, subsequently generating more targeted measures for improving environmental performance. The characterization of household activities (step 2) can be developed through complementary methods: audits, questionnaires, and instant monitoring. The audits are more suitable to make the inventory of household infrastructures (e.g. characteristics of appliances, existence of tap aerators). Nevertheless, the characterization of the “actual” household activities has to be based on questionnaires and instant monitoring. In order to ease this process, the use of mobile phones (see project mobGAS2) to register instantly the activities can be an option.

After the household profile has been drawn (i.e. expenditure patterns and characterization of activities) it is possible to estimate the associated EI. This third step of HEMaS is an algorithmic procedure where expenditure patterns are multiplied by EI/€ indicators. As a result, it is presented the EI of each category of consumption products, and also it is allocated EI of key products (e.g. water, energy) to the respective activities where the consumption takes place. The EI/€ of products can be extracted from studies such as EIPRO (Tukker et al., 2006; see more on Tukker & Jansen, 2006). EIPRO is the most detailed study of this sort for the scope of EU-25, providing EI/€ (abiotic depletion, acidification, ecotoxicity, global warming, eutrophication, human toxicity, ozone layer depletion, and photochemical oxidation) for 282 categories of products.

On the fourth step of HEMaS the environmental profile and the characteristics of the household are analyzed in order to generate personalized measures. The measures consist of promoting green behaviour (e.g. recycling), consumption of low EI/€ products, and/or reducing the consumption of high EI/€ products3. The determination of the significance of measures is based on the criteria of bringing more environmental gains with less consumer resistance. Such approach has the advantage to improve the acceptability of measures and also to establish consumption thresholds (e.g. at a certain stage, a household cannot improve anymore its profile on food consumption despite it still has significant EI). To identify the areas with more potential to act, an analytic procedure may be carried out through which a household environmental profile is compared with reference values or benchmarks. These may be modeled for different types of consumer lifestyles or derived from the profiles of similar households with better environmental performances. Adopting the latter alternative confers an empirical apprenticeship nature to HEMaS. As more and more consumers use this tool, the system will be able to compute the more adequate measures based on the historic analysis of similar households. This approach may be deployed through DataMining techniques.

A cycle of HEMaS ends with the communication of an action plan (step 5) including the personalized measures for a given household. This presents customized and clear guidelines for consumers to take action. This step is particularly important since consumers tend not to respond promptly to environmental policy signals (Spaargaren, 2004; Hunter et al., 2006).


A structure receptive for continuous improvement

HEMaS’s main advantage is its architectural design, which means it merely provides a hosting structure which is composed of independent “methodological modules";. Thus HEMaS presents a great flexibility allowing the adjustment to different target levels of detail and available resources. Accordingly, the methodology of each phase can be continuously improved, the data of EI of products recalculated, the algorithms enhanced, all with the aim of improving HEMaS. There are six main areas that can be further developed to enhance HEMaS operational value:

  1. The number of categories of consumption determines HEMaS’s detail. The more categories considered the less variability of EI between the individual products in each category, leading to smaller errors on the household’s EI estimates. However, a more detailed HEMaS require almost exclusively the automatic monitoring for the household’s pattern of expenditure characterization. Also, it is important that the EI/€ are periodically calculated so that HEMaS goes along with the evolution of markets.

  2. At a maximum detail, HEMaS may account for the EI of single products. Until then it is important to differentiate the products with added-value (e.g. green labels) from the conventional products of each category in order to correct the EI estimated from that consumption. If this is overlooked, the added-value products would have the same EI/€ of the conventional products, and therefore adjustment coefficients are needed to avoid this limitation.

  3. Households may be indirectly contributing to EI even when they are not consuming. Such is the case of savings deposited in banks, which are then used in financial applications. This begs for the analysis of the environmental effects arising from decisions and policies adopted by financial institutions.

  4. EI in HEMaS are estimated directly from household expenditure patterns. Nevertheless, this may include sometimes “unusual” consumption like vacancies or a car purchase. This is translated in a high variation of the household’s environmental profile through time. To overcome this, the EI of some categories of consumption should be distributed along a certain period of time. One option is to operate HEMaS at a higher temporal scale (e.g. quarterly, yearly). Other way is to distribute the EI of products by their approximate lifetime.

  5. HEMaS’s second step (where household activities are characterized) may require too much effort, namely: a) on the quantification of coefficients to adjust the EI/€ according to consumers’ behaviour (e.g. when the household recycles); b) on the audit to collect the characteristics of the household appliances (e.g. power), in order to link the activities with the consumption of electricity, for example. Therefore it is suggested to use standard values in these situations as reference starting point.

  6. Options for improving the generation of measures are twofold: a) allowing the consideration of household’s opportunity for change (analysis of its accessibilities, such as an assessment of the public transport network as a realistic option instead of private transport); b) evaluation of when investments on more efficient appliances becomes environmentally beneficial (e.g. answering questions such as “Is it better to substitute my refrigerator or should I wait for the end of its lifetime to do so?”).

Some of HEMaS’s limitations

HEMaS provides a conceptual framework to deal with the rebound effect at a micro level and to support voluntary actions by households willing to improve their environmental performance. As presented above, this approach relies on the use of EI/€; however the use of these indicators may induce some errors that are worth mentioning: a) lack of sufficient detail in the studies providing data on EI/€ estimates; b) variability of EI/€ inside of each category of consumption. These limitations can later be minimized through improvement of HEMaS’s level of detail or through adaptations to its product impact assessment methodologies.

Other limitations worth mentioning are related with monitoring of household consumption (e.g. possible concerns for disclosing private information to the system) and assuring household’s commitment to implement the suggested measures for improving their environmental performance. As such, given the voluntary nature of this tool, managers of the system (e.g. local governments, NGO’s, firms, environmental national authorities) should prepare programs to encourage household participation, such as local communities’ environmental awards, analogies to the concept of voluntary initiatives coordinated by consumers (e.g. Eco-Teams4, Environmental Home Guard5), integration with markets of environmental compensation, among others.


The tool conceptualized in this paper (HEMaS) aims to evaluate and continuously improve the environmental performance of households, supported by an innovative analysis which accounts for rebound effects in consumption activities. The indicators of EI/€ proved their potential to avoid these effects, although further research is needed on its prospective application in areas such as organizations’ sustainability reporting, assessment of environmental subsidies, and internalization of externalities.

Additionally, the approach adopted in HEMaS may be linked with other sustainability concepts such as participated democracy through civil society organizations, voluntary internalization of environmental costs (association to carbon offsetting companies), data management for organizations’ sustainability reporting. This is particularly relevant since nowadays the overburden of information and lack of standardization is working against the efforts for proper provision of information to consumers.

Despite the advances this paper may bring to research on how to avoid the rebound effects it does not respond unequivocally which are the best directions towards sustainability. To achieve this, further research is needed in order to understand the macro implications of concrete actions, overtaking sustainability barriers and confronting prevailing growth paradigms – the very core of the rebound effects.


Baptista, P., 2008. Produção e Consumo Sustentável: Conceptualização de uma ferramenta para a melhoria sistémica do desempenho ambiental dos agregados domésticos [Sustainable Consumption and Production: Conceptualization of a tool to continuously improve the environmental performance of households]. New University of Lisbon, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, Departament of Environmental Sciences and Engineering: Lisboa.

Binswanger, M., 2001. Technological progress and sustainable development: what about the rebound effect? Ecological Economics, 36: 119-132.

DGE (Directorate General Environment), 2008. Attitudes of European citizens towards the environment. Special Eurobarometer 295. European Commission, DGE.

EEA (European Environmental Agency), 2008. Time for action — towards sustainable consumption and production in Europe - Summary report of the conference held on 27–29 September 2007, Ljubljana, Slovenia. EEA Technical report Nº 1/2008.

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Tukker, A., Huppes, G., Guinée, J., Heijungs, R., de Koning, A., van Oers, L., Suh, S., Geerken, T., Holderbeke, M. V., Jansen, B., Nielsen, P. 2006. Environmental Impact of Products (EIPRO). Technical Report EUR 22284 EN. European Commission, DG JRC, IPTS: Spain.

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New alliances among food production and consumption. Which co-operation for which policies? Empirical support from a survey of 800 consumers.

Elena Battaglini

Co-ordinator of the Research Area on Environment and Territory

IRES (Economic and Social Research Institute), Rome

Via di S. Teresa, 23 - 00198 Rome, ITALY

Tel.: + 39 6 85797216 (direct phone) 857971 (operator)

E mail: e.battaglini@ires.it

1. Introduction

Risk society (Beck, 1986) does not influence eating styles as much as it does the relationship between consumers and the food-system. As debate moves away, from the scientific fray into the day-to-day lives of common people, the consequence has been that consumers have become more competent and selective. So much so that consumers are now in a position to influence the choices made by the food processing industry as a whole, almost elevating them to the role of the system’s referees (Fabris, 2003). In order to establish a relationship founded on trust, it becomes crucial to understand how they actually perceive food quality.

Our survey based data on a sample of 800 consumers (Battaglini, 2007) show that there is no relation between trust in the food and the structural variables that define the socio-economic condition of the consumers. The main results of our survey illustrate that it is very difficult to marshal consumer trust. What is then required are new strategic alliances between the socioeconomic actors of the food chain, bridging food production and consumption.

In this view, the paper will discuss the concept of food chain intended as the aggregation of stakeholders and the combination of material flows (raw materials, additives, semi-finished products, packaging) that contribute to the manufacturing, distribution, marketing and supplying of the product (Murcott and Campbell, 2004). The construct of food chain is useful to shed light on the activities that are required in the food processing passages whereby the agricultural produce is transformed into food eaten at table or processed in the back-kitchen, i.e. in the places where food is processed. The core of the paper will be then to identify which policies are required to implement food quality governance and show best practices developed in Italy.

2. Perception of food risks: survey’s selected method and techniques

Considering the interdisciplinary nature of the survey, but also its exploratory character, we have defined, right from the outset, an open approach towards existing theories, focusing on the analytical description of relations among perception of food risks, information and consumer conduct.

Following an accurate analysis of the economic, sociologic and anthropologic literature on consumption a hypothetical analysis model was developed in connection with the purchasing conduct of consumers. We have thus adopted a research perspective of the ‘contextual constructionist’ kind 6, believing that the perception of food risks on the part of consumers is a function of several variables, subjective as well as structural. Subjective variables include those relating to different forms of rationality and culture and to the degree of trust single consumers grant to the complex network of individual and collective players, among which the media. As for structural variables, we have considered, on the other hand, those pertaining to the domain of society and birth, to geographic origins, to occupation and to income.

The model was then tested and fine-tuned by utilising focus group techniques, which contributed to develop accurate tools for the survey.

Consumers behaviour constitutes the synthesis of social and cultural and components, besides impacting their lifestyle. With a view to explaining the impact of risk in the behavioural patterns of consumers, a broader model was required where the point of departure is not represented by needs, as economical consumption theory states, but by norms and values. Both, in fact, are basic aspects in the articulation of the “structure of preferences” which, in turn, determine consumption choices.

Two different focus groups, conducted in different regional contexts, allowed us to reconstruct causal sequences in the behaviour of consumers. They highlighted the attributes that consumers felt were relevant in the choice of food products. Together these attributes form quality, intended as the presence of an aggregation of characteristics in a specific product that ultimately determine its choice or, if absent, its rejection on the part of consumers.

An attribute considered crucial by consumers is the genuineness-naturalness-freshness combination which shows a significant correlation – inversely proportional – to the consumers’ level of trust for the products they eat. In particular, there is concern for the ever lengthening process leading to the end product. Another possible sequence is in a way alternative to the one outlined earlier. Specifically, research on safety is linked to differing often contradictory motivations. There are many examples. Safety is linked to the famous brand which, however, produces low-quality goods utilising raw materials of dubious provenance. Artefacts are preferable, although, in reality, any producer can create a potential adulterator. Thus against this backdrop the only certainty lies in the fact that one has to live with existing uncertainties.

The semi-standard questionnaire that was used included 28 questions and was submitted – applying the CATI system – to a sample of 800 Italian consumers, stratified by gender, age, geographical provenance (Northwest, Northeast, Centre, South and Islands) as well as by the size in terms of residents of the city of residence.

The data was processed through various sequential phases that included single, multiple factorial as well as cluster analyses that served to define the behaviour of consumer groups7.

3. Food risks and consumers’ trust

Anxiety and concern are the dominant sentiments felt by Italians at table. These fears regard not only the entire food processing system (transport, brands, non-EU production, presence of chemical products, etc.) but also the elements that are contained in the food they eat (food preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, saturated fat, etc.): 87.4% of consumers considered the production system “very risky”, and 75.8% of respondents felt ‘anxiety’ while eating.

The main source of anxiety regards pesticides (66.0%), hormones (67.1%) and antibiotics (64.3%). These responses were further confirmed by the data emerging in connection with the risk elements within the productive system: 95.2% of respondents was worried by the use of chemical products; 88.3% by the use of GM food, while 82.1% was concerned by the transport system and 76.4% by the way sales outlets are managed.

The observation of the choice attributes that condition the purchasing of food gives us the image of a society that is rooted in a vision of quality that combines the need to please the palate with that of safeguarding safety and health. The attributes respondents care most about are taste (97.2%), best before date (96.5%), health benefits (94.0%).

The willingness to pay (WTP), i.e. the demand exercised by consumers even in the presence of a higher price to obtain increased guarantees and certifications concerned half the sample surveyed (45.2%). Elaborating consumers typologies through a cluster analysis, we also observed that WTP has no significant correlation with structural variables as social position, gender or educational level.

The examination of the attributes leading consumers to buy even when prices are higher proved just how widespread is the awareness that the entire food processing system must be constantly controlled in order to safeguard one’s health: provenance and traceability and environmental respect are considered key factors (respectively 41.0% and 35.3% of respondents). The analysis on the relationship between consumers and high quality content products (DOP, DOC, organic, typical, etc.) helps us to better understand this demand for quality and to shed light on the contradictions that entail this kind of consumption. Though a broader knowledge, it was shown, does lead to an increased consumption of quality products, precise information continues to be lacking, generating an asymmetry in what are the perceptions of consumers and the correctness of their consumption practices.

4. Bridging consumers’ trust and food production. The need of a “food quality governance”

Our data show that living in an era of uncertainty has led consumers to become more competent, demanding and selective. Consequently, consumers have taken up a relevant role in influencing the choices made by the entire food processing industry to the extent that they have emerged as referees of the system as a whole. Consumers, though, do not wish to take up a confrontational stance with regards to the food producer, but demand that it be a trustworthy partner in a situation where the perception of food risk is high.

Given that primary needs have been satisfied and goods mainly serve to satisfy desires, consumption in industrial societies is entirely substitutive. Thus, if expanding, market quotas flourish on marginal or non-competitive companies in a zero sum game that betrays the Fordist illusion of unlimited growth and of growing expectations in terms of social and consumption mobility. There will always be niches that expand in order to meet new desires but unlike what occurred in the past the phenomenon will indicate niche expansion rather than sectoral growth as was the case in the period after the war.

As confirmed in our study, Italian consumers claims to a high propensity for information. But this propensity and willingness to learn is often frustrated by an industry and a distribution system that do little in this regard, producing, in other words, a plethora of data but little knowledge.

These elements of analysis produce at least a consequence – a consequence laden with difficulties that seriously impact food safety policies: it becomes difficult to marshal consumer trust (Fürst et al., 1991). And if trust cannot be marshalled top-down, what is then required are motivational decisions that integrate the traditional policies of food quality control with voluntary regulation through specific measures aimed at providing adequate awareness and training.

According to the way we have tackled it in our study, food quality is in all practical terms a commitment, involving all parties of the food processing cycle (producers, processors, distributors, consumers), for the activation of ‘new alliances’ (Fabris, 2003) between interests and knowledge, between production and consumption, under the sign of the mutual interdependency of nature and culture.

The aim of these conclusive remarks is, therefore, to single out the processes (and the context these take place) aimed at enhancing agro-food quality as well as practices and policies pursued or to be pursued.

With a view to analysing the new alliances between nature and culture, between production and ‘thoughtful’ consumption, the utilisation of the ‘food chain’ concept is useful inasmuch as it allows us to bring into focus the activities inherent in the processing phase leading to the transformation of the food item, which from the field should not end up only and exclusively on the table but also in the back kitchen and thus also in those places where food processing of a metabolic nature takes place. We prefer this concept to that of industrial processing which singles out all the activities, players and flows that are critical for the definition of the product’s characteristics but not specifically for the processes themselves. By giving relevance to the latter, the notion of ‘food chain’ also includes, for example, the processing of leftovers and waste in the consumption process, on which we intend to focus our policy in view of its impact on the environment.

What is intended as the food production chain, is the aggregation of players and the combination of material flows (raw materials, additives, semi-finished products, packaging) that contribute to the manufacturing, distribution, marketing and supplying of the product (Murcott and Campbell, 2004). This term thus defines the full range of activities, players and material flows that are crucial in determining the characteristics of the product but not the actual processes. With a view to identifying the socio-economic actors involved in agro-food processes, the notion of food chain is useful to shed light on the activities that are required in the food processing passages whereby the agricultural produce is transformed into food eaten at table or, as we shall see shortly, processed in the back-kitchen, i.e. in the places where food is processed. In addition, the concept of food chain also includes the processing of leftovers and waste during the consumption process, an aspect we would like to focus on considering the impact it has on environment.

The following table (1) may be useful:

Table 1 – The food chain from the field to the back-kitchen









Agro-food enterprise










Domestic cooking





Distribution/ recycling


Source: adapted from Murcott and Campbell (2004)

Food quality, intended as a synthesis of organoleptic, health- and nature-related, ethical productivity components, is pursued within the food chain and, therefore, in a context of material and energy flows (also social) that contribute to the cultivation, transformation, marketing, supplying, consumption and recycling of the food product. Thus intended, food quality essentially implies that food products undergo as little transformation and alteration as possible and that the agro-food cycle be as a closed as possible – like what occurs in nature – with enhanced efficiency in terms of energy consumption and reduced waste material.

In this framework, which are the stakeholders of the processes involved in the food chain that we have outlined theoretically and which are the policies, among those that have already been implemented in Italy, that best serve to sustain those products and processes aimed at enhancing productive quality and the territory? In the following table, we have tried to trace the different phases of the food chain and, therefore, the different places where these production and disposal processes take place, singling out, for each one, the public policies that could sustain the processes outlined and the players involved, which are the active upholders of interest. We do not pretend to supply an exhaustive overview of existing best practices, but rather to highlight those practices that allow for the interaction between production and consumption, between food demand and supply that the ‘discerning’ taste of players – producers and consumers – express and substantiate.

Table 2 – Food chain policies for quality governance






Cultivation/Animal rearing


Commercial farm

Spreading of Agricultural Best Practice (ABP) – eco-compliance.

Integrated Product Policy (IPP).

Incentives for the development of bio-dynamic, organic and eco-compatible agriculture.

Utilisation of eco-efficient technologies.

Incentives designed to enhance voluntary regulation.

Company and collective brand-names.

Certification systems: quality, territorial trademarks (PDO, PGI, TSG), eco-compatibility, corporate social responsibility, production traceability, product certification.

EU, Government, Local Authorities



Employers and trade union representatives

Consumers’ associations



Commercial farm

Integrated Product Policy (IPP).

Incentives designed to enhance voluntary regulation

Certification systems: quality, territorial trademarks (PDO, PGI, TSG), eco-compatibility, corporate social responsibility, production traceability, product certification.

EU, Government, Local Authorities



Employers and trade union representatives

Consumers’ associations








Integrated Product Policy (IPP).

Incentives designed to enhance voluntary regulation..

Company and collective brand-names.

Certification systems: quality, territorial trademarks (PDO, PGI, TSG), eco-compatibility, corporate social responsibility, production traceability, product certification.

Promotion of/adhesion to discerning consumption initiatives.

Adhesion to Last Minute Market8 or Food Bank initiatives.

EU, Government, Local Authorities Distributors


Large retailers


Employers and trade union representatives

Consumers’ associations



Professional or

Family kitchen

Purchase groups.

Promotion of/adhesion to discerning consumption initiatives.

Adhesion to Last Minute Market or Food Bank initiatives.

Care in the utilisation of packing materials.

Utilisation of ‘best technologies’ in terms of eco-efficiency.

Agreements involving quality restaurants with local producers with a view to safeguarding food biodiversity and to enhancing the territory.

Policies aimed at shortening the food processing chain.

Policies aimed at encouraging eco-efficient technologies.


Chefs, Restaurants

Agricultural producers

Local authorities




Purchase groups.

Promotion of/adhesion to discerning consumption initiatives.

Agreements involving quality restaurants with local producers with a view to safeguarding food biodiversity and to enhancing the territory.

Policies aimed at shortening the food processing chain.


Chefs, Restaurants

Agricultural producers

Local authorities

EU, Government




Reduction of waste matter.

Separate waste collection.


Policies aimed at encouraging closed cycles.

Adhesion to Last Minute Market or Food Bank initiatives.


Chefs, Restaurants

Agricultural producers

Local authorities

EU, Government

Our conclusive hypothesis is that within the framework of our country’s agro-food system it is necessary to develop an agro-food quality governance in which government, market and society interact to sustain discerning policies aimed at protecting resources, places and people that would ultimately have repercussions on the tastes and knowledgeability of products.

At a policy level, this process would resolve the tensions between structure and player, between production and consumption if food quality, in its socio-cultural and environmental components, became a shared objective as well as a vehicle for economic competitiveness, where wellbeing is intended not only in monetary terms but also as the satisfaction of broader values.

Thus the integration among the diverse production and consumption phases concern both material and structural aspects as well as symbolic and cultural ones which both impact production and consumption through the domain of information and knowledgeabilility.

The complex interactions between production and consumption pass from the knowledge node to the cognitive and emotional double dimension of how we produce and communicate food. Knowledge ultimately boils down to how consumer tastes – at the double level of taste and knowledge – interface with attitudes, styles and the choices of food entrepreneurs.


Battaglini (a cura di), 2007, Il Gusto Riflessivo. Verso una Sociologia della Produzione e del Consumo alimentare, Bonanno Editore, Acireale, Roma.

Beck, U.,1986, Risikogesellschaft. Auf dem Weg in eine andere Moderne, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp Verlag; tr. it. La Società del rischio, Carocci Editore, Roma, 2000.

Beato, F., 1998, “I quadri teorici della sociologia dell’ambiente tra costruzionismo sociale e oggettivismo strutturale”, in Quaderni di sociologia, vol. XLII, n. 16, pp. 41-60.

Fabris, G., 2003, Il nuovo consumatore: verso il post-moderno, FrancoAngeli, Milano.

Fürst et alii, 1991, Palatable Worlds. Sociocultural Food Studies, Solum Forlag, Oslo.

Mol, A. P. J., 2002, “Political Modernisation and Environmental Governance: between Delinking and Linking” in Europæ Journal des Européanistes, VIII, n. 1-2, pp. 169-185; special issue on “Social Sciences and Environment: Between Theory and Practice” (L. Draetta and F. Lai eds.).

Murcott, A., Campbell, H., 2004, “Teoria agro-alimentare e sociologia dell’alimentazione”, in Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia, XLV, n. 4, pp. 571- 602.

Gender empowerment in Nepal for sustainable development. Bhatt C.R., Joshi O., Koirala B., Pokhrel A., Ween B. and Dhakal HP.

Authors' name and affiliations

Bhatt CR1, 2, Joshi O3, 4, Koirala B5, Pokhrel A6, Ween B7, Dhakal HP8

Chhavi Raj Bhatt, B.Sc.

1Hedmark University College, Hamar, Norway, 2Manipal Teaching Hospital, Pokhara, Nepal Corresponding address: Dragonstien 57A, 1062, Oslo, Norway. Phone: +47 90757290

Email: chhavilalu@

Omkar Joshi, B. Sc.

3School of Forest Resources, University of Arkansas, Arkansas, USA, 4Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation, Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Nepal. Email: omkarjoshi36@

Bibek Koirala,MBBS

5Medical Practitioner, 95 Srinagar Marg, New Baneshwar, Kathmandu, Nepal

Email: koirala.bibek@

Asmita Pokhrel, BBA

6University of Science and Technology, Beijing, China

Email: asmita-pokhrel@

Borgny Ween, M.Sc.

Gjøvik University College, Gjøvik, Norway

Phone: +47 97676182

Email: Borgny.Ween@rr-research.no

Hari Prasad Dhakal, MBBS, MD

8BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital, Bharatpur, PO Box 34, Chitwan, Nepal

Email: aditi2001@


Gender empowerment has become a principal agenda in Nepal as women suffer from exploitation in terms of social discrimination, resource consumption, income and employment. Deep-seated orthodox patriarchal mindset is root cause of socioeconomic exploitation of women in Nepal. Sustainable development, which underpins a confluence of environmental, economic and social factors, cannot be achieved without enhancing women’s access to political, economic and social sectors. The Nepalese political changes in 2008 paved the way for the election of constituent assembly and declaration of republic. This has helped to reinforce the empowerment of women with a positive discrimination and also to open a prospect of generating empowered consumer citizens. This paper discusses gender perspectives in the Nepalese context that women empowerment should be an important tool for a sustainable development of Nepal.


Gender empowerment consists of a confluence of factors like equal politico-economic opportunities and participation, and equal access to education and health (Lopez- Claros 2005). Empowerment is pertinent at the individual and collective level, and can be economic, social, or political (World Bank 2002). Nepal is a developing country sandwiched between India and China, having a multiethnic population of 26.4 million with nearly equal proportion of males and females. Thirty-one percent of the Nepalese population is living below the national poverty line and more than 80 % of the population lives in rural areas (Central Bureau of Statistics 2007). The population consists of 80.6 % Hindus, 10.7 % Buddhists and nearly 9% other religious groups. The patriarchal culture in Nepalese society prefers keeping women in a low profile and discourages gender equality (Segala 1999). Nepal ranks 86th in the Gender Empowerment Measure (UNDP 2007) and 145th in the Human Development Index (UNDP 2008). The poverty, discrimination and inequality prevailing in the Nepalese society fuelled armed conflict and dramatic political changes in Nepal paving the way for the constituent assembly election and declaration of republic in 2008. This opened a new avenue for sustainable peace and democracy through the process of economical, political and social transformation. However, Nepal is still in a political transition period. This paper, therefore, discusses gender perspectives in the Nepalese context that women empowerment should be an important tool for a sustainable development of Nepal.


The women’s disempowerment is obvious worldwide with the rampant violence against women (Robinson 2003) and Nepal is no exception (Rana et al 2005). The gender inequality is often multi-dimensional - economic, social, cultural and geographic - and each aspect reinforces the other. Nepalese women are in a difficult situation due to their dependency on men (Luitel 2001). According to the Nepalese National Women’s Commission, only 16% of the women enjoy a regular income whereas 8% of them are in service sector (Dhakal 2008). They also lack access and control, which is one of the setbacks for the gender equity (Agarwal 1994). More recently, the Nepalese government has passed a bill that will enable women to lay a claim on parental property. The empowerment process by redistribution of resources can improve women's status in society. Even though women do wield an indirect power in the decision- making process for family welfare, direct influence appears minimal. Nepalese women contribute more than 60 % of the total workforce for the rural economy, and are engaged in household and agriculture activities - mostly unpaid - making their work less integrated to the market (Acharya 2008). The agriculture sector alone contributes 34% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (World Bank 2007).

Increased employment of women in the industrial sector can help reduce poverty and inequality (Acharya 2008). The Ninth National Plan (1997-2002) duly recognized the problem of gender marginalization in the Nepalese economy. The rural women’s physical contribution in livestock production is more than men’s despite their limited access to resources, credit, training, extension services and technology The livestock production has been shown to help Nepalese rural women to generate considerable income (Upadhay 2003).

Even in urban areas, as a byproduct of globalization, increasing number of women has become economically active; but majority of them are not able to find good jobs. There is also evidence that allocation of food and health care favour boys in some parts of Nepal and its neighbouring countries (Schultz 1999). To certain extent, preference exists for sons in the Nepalese society for both economic and non-economic reasons (Leone et al. 2003). South Asian women are in more disadvantageous situations particularly during illness and old age (Firke et al. 2004). In Nepal, gender plays an important role on illness reporting and decision-making process for health care (Pokhrel et al 2005). Maternal mortality is still a serious problem indicating inadequate health services to Nepalese women (Borghi et al 2006).Importantly, abortion law came into effect after 2002 (Thapa 2004), which was in fact a remarkable victory for the Nepalese women on reproductive health issue.


The sixth national plan of the country (1980-85) included the policies to bring women in various developmental activities. Gender issue got further momentum after the restoration of democracy in 1990 (Shrestha 2002). At 1995 Beijing conference, Nepal committed for- integrating women’s concerns in all policy frameworks, reviewing legal provisions related to violence against women, prioritising initiatives at impoverished women, improving health and educational status of women, and planning and implementing development programs within gender framework (Shrestha 2002). Following this, a separate Ministry of Women and Social Welfare was established in 1995 to foster the concerns of gender equity and welfare in the country, which reinforced issues of gender mainstreaming for sustainable development (Shrestha 2002). Therefore, contemporary development strategies of Nepal have realized the need for boosting women’s empowerment and their involvement in the policy and planning process of the development. Lind argues that feminist approaches should be integrated to development and social programs to overcome gender effects on developmental policies (Lind 1997). Globalisation has opened new dimensions for development in today’s world, and women face dual perspectives - the potential of exploitation via cross border trafficking and also the power to enhance women’s lives via global networking (Livesey 2005).

In Nepal, there is a need of increased women's participation and also their empowerment for better and sustainable use and management of natural resources like community forestry (Adhikari 2001). The use of the natural resources should occur in an environment-friendly manner and the responsible citizens are important contributors for a sustainable development (Dobson 2007).


The male and female literacy rates in Nepal are 65.5 % and 43 % respectively (Central Bureau of Statistics 2007) showing a contrasting gender disparity. Gender discrimination persists in Nepal when it comes to the access for education despite the expansion of educational sector (Stash et al. 2001). A study showed that rural Nepalese women have improved empowerment through literacy programs and small-scale household economic activities (Acharya et al 2007). Nepalese girls are kept at home for domestic works and also for ensuring their chastity while boys are sent to schools (Waszak et al 2003). This is detrimental to the national economy by letting half of the nation’s workforce go waste. It is argued that equal opportunities for education to both boys and girls need to be promoted through proper education policy for sustainable development in Nepal (Shields et al. 2008). However, education alone is not adequate for gender empowerment (Malhotra et al. 2003). Furthermore, women’s participation in decision-making level is necessary to achieve gender empowerment. Participation of women at policy level was aimed to reach up to 20 % by 2007 (National Planning Commission 2003). Effect of globalisation is apparent in Nepalese society with the gradual increased number of females taking up jobs, which had been hitherto considered that of male domain for e.g. military service. Also, the increasing number of women in higher education and civil services in recent times (through statutory reservations) is a positive sign, indeed.


Women’s participation in political processes is an important means of narrowing the gender gap by granting them greater power to plan and implement policies for development. The Nordic countries have the highest share of women in politics, the best gender empowerment measures and human development indices, which show a strong and positive correlation between gender empowerment and overall development (UNDP 2007; UNDP 2008). The average percentage of women in parliaments around the world is 18.4%, while with Nordic countries it is 41.4% (Women in National Parliaments 2008). In Nepal, the recently held election to the Constituent Assembly has, through quota provisions, led to 33 % of the assembly members being females, a level of women’s representation unparalleled to Nepalese history, placing Nepal 14th worldwide in terms of representation of women (UNMIN 2008). The implementation of quota, though controversial, has been instrumental to some extent in achieving gender equality worldwide (Ballington et al. 2002). In the previous Nepalese parliamentary election in 1999, women’s representation was merely 5.9% (UNMIN 2008).So, the current overwhelming women’s representation is a significant step, albeit just one more step on a long journey towards equality of Nepalese women. Nepal’s interim constitution 2007 for the first time in history ensured the provision of citizenship to the children through the mother’s ancestry (Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007).Nepalese women’s activists also feel that the lack of women in the policy making level will directly impact the life style and further development of women (Rana et al 2005). Women represented by a woman are more likely to contribute in overall political process in empowering themselves (High-Pippert et al 1998). Moreover, men should realize the need of including women in all domains of socio-political sphere if we want egalitarian society. It is suggested that the gender and development issues should be worked out together with men to overcome prevailing hindrances as recognized by the dominant models of masculinity (Cornwall, 1997). The observations from the gender workshops in Nepal, India and Bangladesh suggest that it is important to have better understanding and willingness to move forward in consensus for development and empowerment of women (Bhasin 1997). Interlink between men’s involvement in household activities and women’s involvement in public sphere with mutual understanding can bring benefit to family as a whole (Engle 1997). Pre-existing inequality and underdevelopment, root cause of problems among Nepalese women, necessitates an approach that helps to ensure economic, social and cultural transformation. This, in turn, can obtain human rights for overall development of women (Aguirre et al 2008). Work by some Nepalese women to alleviate the sufferings of the victims of gender violence and armed conflicts (Peace Women Across the Globe 2008) is helping to recognize the role of women in addressing gender empowerment issue in Nepal.


With more than half of the country’s population represented by females, women empowerment is vital in order to create consumer citizens, who then can make independent choices out of various options in the social field. Two distinctive behaviours and values are highlighted in addressing clients of social services and welfare programmes as empowered consumer-citizens: a capacity (and expectation) for choice; and a responsibility for the individual self (Newman et al 2006). In essence, we need to make women aware of their ‘right to have rights’! When we say consumer citizens, we mean to incorporate not only the “commodity” aspect but also the social welfare aspect. As Veronica Schild puts it, ‘modern’ Chilean women are active agents, with ‘life projects’ that they control – and that presumably include family life, children and paid work – and takes for granted that women exercise their autonomy as empowered citizens who make choices in the market as producers and consumers (Schild 2007).

Like in Chile, empowerment programs should try to envisage women as individual selves rather than as mothers or homemakers, and to offer them courses that focus on personal development, community development and job-related skills training. The Chilean techniques of desarrollo personal, or ‘personal development’ techniques are an exercise of power that incites, induces and seduces women – defined as ‘poor’, and as victimised by their traditional role and place in society – to transform themselves from domestic beings with responsibilities for others, into individuals with the potential for autonomy and freedom. Its goal is to act on the subjectivity of poor women and to transform them into active, entrepreneurial beings capable of exercising their citizenship as producers and consumers (Schild 2007). Nepalese women contribute in household and national economy by involving themselves actively and responsibly in production of various goods and evolving themselves as consumer citizens.


Nepal stands at a veritable crossroads and the issue of gender empowerment cannot be put on the back burner anymore. Some works have been done to empower women including their representation at the highest policy level. However, much more is still desired to improve the gender disparity by eliminating age-old patriarchal mindset of people that exists as a hindrance for equality. An issue, as important as this, needs to be dealt firmly by policymakers. They must demonstrate strong commitment and effectively implement various programs to mitigate the gap between men and women. What is at stake here is a definite chance to lead Nepal on a path of prosperity by empowering a gender which, for all its importance, has been reduced to the household chores when it is capable of much more. In this lies the future of Nepal and along with it the prospect of generating empowered consumer-citizens.


The authors would like to give sincere thanks to following persons for their kind advice during writing this article; Associate Professor Inger Haug, and Assistant Professor Alexandra Klein, Hedmark University College, Norway.


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How to achieve the environmental objectives in different cultures Joanna Boboryko, Marta Dawidziuk and Barbara Mazur

University of Finance and Management in Bialystok

ul. Ciepla 40, 15-472 Bialystok, Poland

tel. +48 85 6750672

e-mail: foreign@wsfiz.edu.pl


The concept of culture although notoriously difficult to define turns to be very useful in explaining many phenomena such as economic growth or consumer behaviour. Cultures, in defining what attitudes and behaviours are appropriate, develop the logic through which societies interpret and adopt to environment. Because of it culture is an influential variable not only in economics and politics but also in ecological arena. Our spiritual, aesthetic, and ethical views resulting from culture often motivate and constrain our behaviors. Using cultural typology originally suggested by Cultural theory (individualism, hierarchy and egalitarianism) and transformed it into G. Hofstede cultural dimensions (individualism and power distance), this paper explores diverse worldviews that might influence individual and collective attitudes relevant to environmental issues. It seems to be possible when ling the dimension of these variables for particular societal cultures, to seek for the factors which could activate members of the society for the sake of the environment.

The purpose of the article is to present the cultural conditioned notions, beliefs and convictions that indicate which arguments for which societies might be put forward for gaining sustainable behaviors in respect to different cultures. The research conducted between students representing national cultures with various levels of Hofstede’s variables (eg. Polish, Turkish and Indian) shows which arguments used in public discourse are promising to push them to behave in a sustainable way.


Cultures evaluate risk and policy proposals based on their perceived implications for the culture’s preferred way of living. Exploring cultural belief systems begins with developing or selecting a taxonomy of worldviews. Seeking a typology less temporally and spatially bound Curtis A. Pendergraft choose that suggested by Cultural Theory. An axiom of CT is that all societies and their underlying worldviews, irrespective of time or place, must be more or less hierarchic, more or less individualistic, more or less egalitarian. Instead of this theory which has no ethnocentric approach G. Hofstede’s conception of cultural dimensions might be used to map individuals or groups into the cultural matrix by analyzing their responses to statements which carry implications about how life ought to be lived. The major hypothesis of this research was that respondents would indeed fall into clusters along the lines suggested by Hofstede’s cultural dimensions which influence people’s beliefs and behaviors. Short description of two of them is shown below. For the purpose of presented research Hierarchy and Egalitarism have been replaced by one bilateral cultural dimension called by Hofstede Power distance. On the one edge of this dimension there are societies with egalitarian attitude towards social structure, on the other one there are those accepting and protecting sharp and unbreakable distances between stratified society.

Hofstede’s description of Power Distance is as follows (Hofstede 2005):The degree of inequality among people which the population of a country considers as normal: from relatively equal (that is, small power distance) to extremely unequal (large power distance). The extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. This represents inequality (more versus less), but defined from below, not from above. It suggests that a society's level of inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.

When considering Individualism Hofstede explains that it is (Hofstede, 2005) The degree to which people in a country prefer to act as individuals rather than as members of groups. On the individualist side we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. The word 'collectivism' in this sense has no political meaning: it refers to the group, not to the state.

Table 1.

Power distance and Individualism scores for Turkey, Poland and India


Power Distance (PDI)

Individualism (IND)










Source: /

In the light of Hofstede’s dimensions India has Power Distance as the highest with the ranking of 77 compared to Poland (68) and Turkey (66). Individualism score for Poland (60) is bigger than for India (48) and Turkey (37). Polish culture can be considered as the most individualistic, Indian – as the most hierarchical and Turkish as the most egalitarian of all three. Scores resulting from Hofstede research are exhibited in the table 1.


Twelve statements drawn from the public discourse about environmental issues were selected by C. A. Pendergraft based on the idea that their implications for how we ought to live would differentiate adherents of the various cultures (Pendergraft 1998: 661-664). Responses were collected from 76 persons (33 Polish, 27 Turkish, 16 Indian) studying at University of Finance and Management in Bialystok (Poland) between January and March 2009. Prior to analysis of the responses a cultural index based on the literature of Cultural Theory and Hofstede cultural dimensions was constructed. Responses for the three cultural types (egalitarian, hierarchic and individualistic) were assigned to each response for each country. The logic behind them is presented below and the predictions for the answers are displayed in the table 2.

1. Private property will serve not only as a basis for feeding people but for long-term freedom and democracy.

The stronger the agreement with the statement the less egalitarian the respondent is expected to be.

The expectation is that the stronger the sense of community the more persuasive will be an argument that private property rights cannot be allowed to threaten the common good. It might be supposed that hierarchs, given their greater concern for community, would tend to be a little less enthusiastic about private property than would individualists.

2. Environmental problems are technical problems: we need to let experts handle them.

Responses to this statement should reflect perceptions of equality (are experts really more competent than the rest of us, especially in ethical or moral matters?) and views of nature (to what degree can we tamper with or manage it?). Egalitarians should disagree with this statement on the ground that it is elitist, anti-democratic, and tends toward hubris. Hierarchs should find it more appealing, since our relations with nature require competent management. Individualists could agree because some people are indeed more competent and knowledgeable than others, but on the other hand may see expertise, especially if it advises limitations on freedom, as ascribed rather than proven, and suspicious on that basis.

3.Humans have no innate or god-given mandate to dominate the planet.

The word ‘dominate’ should spark reactions here. It should be a negative symbol for egalitarians. Terms such as ‘innate’ and ‘god-given’ are also loaded with connotations about relationships among humans, between humans and nature, and about religion. It is expected that egalitarians will tend to agree with this statement, while hierarchs and individualists find it less appealing. Political and social conservatives and fundamentalist Christians should tend to disagree with this statement.

4. Environmentalism is mostly just a popular bandwagon and politicians will always jump aboard one of those.

This double-barreled statement is intended to stress the respondent, leading many to choose ‘neutral’. Those who feel most strongly about environmentalism (mostly egalitarians) should disagree with it, overcoming their skepticism about politicians. Those who fear constraints on freedom should agree with it. Hierarchs and those whose worldviews are more moderate should tend toward neutrality. This statement turned out to be one of the strongest indicators of difference between egalitarianism and the other cultures.

5. The explosive increase in population is the number one environmental hazard.

Both egalitarians and hierarchs should be more concerned than individualistsabout population growth, if for slightly different reasons. However, someindividualists, fearing that overpopulation will limit freedom and opportunity, mayagree. Again religion may play a role, and so, in this instance, might race. RomanCatholics and fundamentalist Protestants may disagree, as may Blacks (who areoften fundamentalist Protestants) and Hispanics (who are often Roman Catholics,and among who fundamentalism has made inroads lately). Egalitarians and ferventenvironmentalists should agree with the statement, concerned about balance.

6. If I had to choose between freedom and equality I’d take equality.

Individualists and hierarchs should disagree with this, but the statement should put more stress on egalitarians. Hierarchs, who don’t care much for equality, but who are leery about freedom degenerating into license, will tend to disagree or choose neutrality. Responses at the extremes should be characteristic of the low grid cultures. The statement was sometimes reversed (... if I’d take freedom) and the scoring adjusted accordingly.

7. Rich and poor, we are all on this planet together, and rich countries must take financial responsibility for cleaning up global pollution; we are obligated to help the Third World.

This statement should appeal much more to egalitarians than to hierarchs, and more to hierarchs than to individualists. The environmentalist and egalitarian aspect is obvious, but the final clause puts some stress on the hierarchic respondent, who may feel a sense of noblesse oblige not felt by individualists.

8. If we don’t change the way we live, we will make the whole planet uninhabitable.

This statement is intended to measure the anxiety felt by respondents about the sustainability of our current way of life. Egalitarians, perceiving nature as delicately balanced, see widespread asymmetries in wealth and power as a social and environmental negative, and should tend to agree with Planet. Hierarchs should tend to disagree with the statement because they are adverse to radical change, and disinclined to accept the notion that under their direction we are headed the wrong way. They may agree that the course is in need of some correction, but should reject the implication that we are totally misled. Individualists may agree with the statement because of a perception that the private sphere is threatened by an expanding public sphere, but their tendency to see nature as resilient should influence most to disagree with the statement.

9. Environmental issues should be strictly regulated by law.

It seems that hierarchs should approve this statement much stronger than individualists and egalitarians. The reason behind such assumption is not very sophisticated – hierarchs value order. Individualists and egalitarians together also should endorse it but for other reasons: individualists – because law stands for freedom, egalitarians – because everybody should follow the rules.

10. People should behave according to their own convictions rather than to law regulations.

It appears that egalitarians and hierarchs should completely exclude this statement: hierarchs because it generally threatens the concept of hierarchy, egalitarians – because all people ought to have the same duties and similar privileges. Individualists which value liberty might think that sometimes quality of law is low and individual morality can have higher level than common law.

11. Beneath the skin, people are pretty much all the same.

This statement should appeal most to the egalitarian, less to the individualist, and least to the hierarch. It is aimed at probing notions of sameness versus difference, which, it is thought, is a latent influence on notions of justice.

12. Nature is not nearly as delicate as some people claim.

This statementshould appeal more to individualists than to egalitarians, with hierarchs somewhere between. Believing this allows those with cornucopian notions, i.e. individualists, more latitude in utilizing natural resources, while rejecting it harmonizes with concern for ecological balance.


Supposing that Polish culture is the most individualistic, Indian – the most hierarchical and Turkish – the most egalitarian of all cultures researched here it was forecasted the respondents probable answers. The forecasting on the answers given by Polish, Turkish and Indian respondents are displayed in the table 2.

Table 2.

Provisional responses of Polish, Indian and Turkish students





1. Private property will serve not only as a basis of feeding people but for long term freedom and democracy.




2. Environmental problems are technical problems: we need to let experts handle them.




3. Humans have no innate or god-given mandate to dominate the planet.


4. Environmentalism is mostly just a popular bandwagon and politicians will always jump aboard one of those.




5. The explosive increase in population is the number one environmental hazard.




6. If I had to choose between freedom and equality I’d take equality.




7. Rich and poor, we are all on this planet together, and rich countries must take financial responsibility for cleaning up global pollution; we are obligated to help the Third World.

almost agree


strongly agree

8. If we don’t change the way we live, we will make the whole planet uninhabitable.




9. Environmental issues should be strictly regulated by law.


strongly agree


10. People should behave according to their own conviction rather than law regulations.



partly agree

11. Beneath the skin, people are pretty much all the same.


strongly disagree


12. Nature is not nearly as delicate as some people claim.




The research partly confirmed adequacy of previsions made for egalitarians, hierarchs and individualists on the basis of Cultural Theory and Hofstede cultural dimensions. It positively verified five statements: (1)Private property will serve not only as a basis of feeding people but for long term freedom and democracy, (5) The explosive increase in population is the number one environmental hazard, (7) Rich and poor, we are all on this planet together, and rich countries must take financial responsibility for cleaning up global pollution; we are obligated to help the Third World, (9) Environmental issues should be strictly regulated by law, and (10) People should behave according to their own conviction rather than law regulations. They are displayed on the graphs below in the chronological order.

In respect to the remaining statements the research proved the differences between previsions and final results. In the case of two statements it was observed the single discrepancy where previsions for only one country failed: (4) Environmentalism is mostly just a popular bandwagon and politicians will always jump aboard one of those and(6) If I had to choose between freedom and equality I’d take equality. In respect to other five it was double controversy where previsions for two countries were unsuccessful: (2) Environmental problems are technical problems: we need to let experts handle them, (3) Humans have no innate or god-given mandate to dominate the planet, (8) If we don’t change the way we live, we will make the whole planet uninhabitable, (11) Beneath the skin, people are pretty much all the same, and (12) Nature is not nearly as delicate as some people claim.

Single disparity between expectations and research results is displayed on the graphs below.


This paper discusses culturally conditioned worldviews relevant to environmental issues. In general the sample population does seem to hold worldviews that are explicable by cultural approach, but in some individual cases these worldviews seem to be synergetic. People want a healthy environment: conflict over how to achieve the goal is partly culture-based and it might be solved, at least to some extent, by using different arguments to different cultural groups: individualistic, egalitarian and hierarchic.

A virtue of cultural approach is its suggestion that we can illuminate causes and courses of environmental conflicts by identifying and analyzing elements of conflicting or mixed worldviews. It offers an analogical method of extrapolating from individual to collective levels of analysis. The sample population consists of very diverse groups, and is characterized by a broad range of cultural positions, but in almost every demographic grouping there are those who deviate from the general tendency in that group. Effective collective action will no doubt have to include in its organizing principles notions that are incongruent. The aim will have to be to emphasize areas of overlap and minimize areas of disagreement among cultural worldviews. Cultural Theory’s contribution could be to identify these interstices, pointing toward both areas of potential overlap and divergence.


  1. Pendergraft C. A., Human Dimensions of Climate Change: Cultural Theory and Collective Action, “Climatic Change” 1998, nr 39, s. 661-664.

  2. Hofstede G., Hofstede G. J., Cultures and Organizations. Software for the Mind, McGraw-Hill, United States 2005.

  3. /

Nurse K., Culture as a Fourth Pillar of Sustainable Development, prepared for Commonwealth

Is water always in balance? A work activity for the education of the sustainable consumption from creativity and body expression. (Poster)

Josep Bonil, Genina Calafell, Marta Fonolleda, Maia Querol, Salvador Viciana

Josep Bonil. Departament de Didàctica de les Ciències Experimentals. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Edifici G-5. 08193 Bellaterra. (Barcelona) (0034)935813356. josep.bonil@uab.cat

Genina Calafell. Escola del Consum de Catalunya. Agència Catalana del Consum. Gran Via de Carles III, 105. 08028. Barcelona. (0034) 935516561. gcalafell@gencat.cat

Marta Fonolleda. Escola del Consum de Catalunya. Agència Catalana del Consum. Gran Via de Carles III, 105. 08028. Barcelona. (0034) 935516569. mfonolleda@gencat.cat

Maia Querol. Escola del Consum de Catalunya. Agència Catalana del Consum. Gran Via de Carles III, 105. 08028. Barcelona. (0034) 935516562. mquerolp@gencat.cat

Salvador Viciana. Escola del Consum de Catalunya. Agència Catalana del Consum. Gran Via de Carles III, 105. 08028. Barcelona. (0034) 935516566. saviciana@gencat.cat

In this communication it is presented a workshop about water consumption whose starting question is: “Is water always on balance?”. In this workshop, the concept of sustainability is worked drawing an analogy with body balance. TPR activities are used to allow the students to represent sustainability. Looking for the body balance helps to identify the diversity of factors that have an influence on the research of a sustainable lifestyle as well. Sustainability ends up being the result of a random balance between nature and culture.


It is 7:00 in the morning and the ring of the alarm clock tells me that a new day is starting. I have a shower, get dressed and have a quick coffee on my way to work. Every day a lot of us repeat the same actions in a systematic way. If we freeze the actions at intervals of ten minutes… could we look for how many plugs are switched on in our homes? How many taps are turned on and off? How many coffee machines make coffee nonstop? From another perspective we could ask ourselves: how many kilowatts do we consume? how many liters of water run through taps?, how much raw material to produce electrical appliances do we use in the morning?.

Every act of consumption evidences the use and transformation of natural resources. Consumption becomes a way of relationship between individuals and natural environment. With this relation many problems can be associated, such as the increase of waste materials, the increase of the ecological footprint, and global warming among others, (Gardner, Assadourian & Sarin 2004).

That’s how sustainability appears as an essential element in the approach of consumer education (UNEP, Marrakech Task Force on Education for Sustainable Consumption 2008) and the consumers as a key factor when building a model of society that is able to move towards sustainability.

The consumer education brings an opportunity to make citizenship capable of participating in the construction of the future from an open and creative position. We need, then, an education that focuses on change and gives citizenship tools for imagining new situations and building plausible as well as divergent alternatives (Mayer 2002).

This communication presents a didactic reflection about the relevance of creativity in didactic activities linked to consumer education. Later on, it will be exemplified the presence of creativity in teaching practice through the presentation of a workshop that has, as the main topic, water consumption.


Consumption shows us the speed in which our society is changing: changes in the kinds of products, in the ways of using them, in legal regulations, and even in values (Pujol 1996). Summarizing, consumption makes us be aware of the vertiginous changes in western society’s lifestyles.

Given that, consumer education can give tools to individuals to build strategies in order to face these changes. Then, appears the challenge to define a consumer education capable of take action in the present considering the future. It’s needed a consumer education that working with nowadays phenomena will provide students with tools to face current unknown situations. From that point of view, creativity has a fundamental role (Calafell, Fonolleda & Querol 2008).

As consumption reaches us through all our senses and from diversity of languages, then, consumer education can be a platform to boost the presence of new proposals moving between rigor and imagination. The rigor allows us to know and use the rules and techniques that define each language. The imagination enables us to obtain the fullest capacity of the resources we dispose of and make divergent proposals that allow us to put forward new solutions to new challenges.

Assuming creativity as the axis of consumer education implies that team teachers should take some risks. Before consumption you can not be conservative: dynamism becomes a fundamental feature. That’s why a didactic proposal must move in between stability and change. Stability reinforces the centre’s educational project and change enables to adapt it to new products and services, new languages and new ways of management. Summarizing, dynamism enables citizenship to adapt to the changes that surprises us day after day in consumer society.

Creativity has to help students to design their own strategies, which must be changeable and adaptable to new situations. In consumption, the rigid planification is often exceeded by unexpected situations that requires us to change constantly our way of thinking and acting (Bonil et al. 2004). It is then important to dialogue between determinism and uncertainty. Determinism allows us to identify the elements which guide our acts of consumption. Aspects such as the framework of the law, the products and services that provide each establishment or the basic coexistence rules that arise from the personal relationships surrounding consumption. Uncertainty helps us to place ourselves before surprise, before the appearance of new consumption goods, new communicative codes or new ways of payment.

The presence of creativity enables us to move towards a consumer education that bets on dialogue among points of view, and therefore escapes from reductionism. A consumer education that sees the classroom as a space open to the diversity of points of view, and therefore is not focused on qualifying people attitudes as correct or incorrect. A consumer education must be able to discover the complexity that is hidden behind every act of consumption, and therefore need to enhance the reflection and escape from closed instructions.


Next we present a workshop about water consumption designed including the principles mentioned above. The workshop is offered from l’Escola del Consum de Catalunya9, (Consumption Education of Catalonia), a public institution whose goal is to boost the presence of consumer education in the catalan educational context.

The workshop that is presented starts with the question: is water always on balance?, and it is intended for young people between 12-16 years old. With the realization of this workshop we go after the students to achieve the following competences:

  • Being aware of the biological and social function of water, in order to consider it as a natural resource essential for people and environment.

  • Identifying sustainability as a balance between people’s needs and environment, in order to be able to define a sustainable and responsible model of water consumption.

  • Knowing some of the indicators that allow us to value if a sustainable water consumption is being made, in order to be able to introduce criteria of sustainability in everyday water consumption.

The proposal is organized in a series of four activities arranged from a constructivist perspective (Jorba, Sanmartí 1996).

Activity 1: How much are you willing to pay for water?

In this activity we explore the elements which determine the price of water, with an emphasis on the importance of the context and the diversity of typologies of water offered in the market. At the beginning, we show different situations to the students (a day on the beach, buying water at the supermarket, drinking a glass of water at home…). The students consider how much they would be willing to pay for a liter of water in every situation. In the discussion arise that the price every person is willing to pay depends on multiple elements.

Activity 2: How do we relate to water?

Next we discover how the consumption of water evidences a relationship with the environment. Therefore, sustainability is considered as a dynamic balance between two reference points: environment and people. To represent this concept, we ask the students to experiment different ways of balance with their own bodies (Fig.1).

Fig:1: Examples of different positions

Next, we analyze the balance in the different positions, taking as references the points of support and the body alignment. Some balances are more stable than others, due to their capacity of maintaining the position and the capacity of adaptation to fluctuations in environment.

In this activity we introduce body language as a way of representing sustainability. The reflection about the own body balance allows us to introduce in a significant way elements such as stability in time or resistance to the changes in the environment as a way of approaching to the concept of sustainability.

Activity 3: Is water always on balance?

The aim of this activity is giving the students the indicators to assess the sustainability of their everyday management of water. To do so, we simulate a purchase of water. We assign the characteristics of the purchase of every group of students, using roulettes, dice and cards (Fig.2). Every purchase differs in the origin of the water, the place of consumption, the use that will be made, the quantity that will be used, whether it is tap or bottled water and, in the latter case, the kind of container. Making the presence of chance significant in the process of the purchase.

Fig 2: Sample of chance elements that help form how the purchase will be made.

Once we have determined the characteristics of every purchase, every group assesses the degree of sustainability of their water taking into consideration the following parameters: relation among origin place and destination, quantity and use, quality and use, and the kind of container.

Sustainability appears as a relative value with a high component of chance. It stops being a universal and absolute concept; we must take into account the context and the individual option.

Activity 4: Are all waters the same?

The aim of the last activity of the sequence is to make students think about the possibility of producing their own strategy before the consumption of water. To do so, every group tests the sustainability of their assigned water in the previous activity by an exercise of balances adapted from the game commercialized with the name of Twister ©. In this game every group experiments the sustainability of their water from the positions they realize with their bodies and the strategy they face the game. (Fig.3)

Fig. 3: Example of body representation of different types of consumption of water.

The body and the changes it undergoes according to chance becomes a tool to think about the sustainability from an open position, where the same options and the presence of chance are relevant.


The main focus of consumer education is on the students. The persons who, with their actions, create their own model of consumption from their knowledge, their values, skills, and the possibilities they get from the same resources and the environment. This way, the consumer education becomes a platform to help every person decide their own way of behaving from a thoughtful and responsible position.

The exercise of building the same model of consumer has a high creative component part. If we expect every person to be able to position before the phenomenon of consumption in a different way, creativity and strategy turn into first-rate educational tools.

Giving presence to these elements in consumer education means choosing open educational approaches, which facilitate debate, the acceptance of diversity, the presence of chance and the questioning of the world. Where the presence of change as one of the fundamental features of our world is obvious and one of the abilities that we, the individual, have to develop.


Bonil, J., Sanmartí, N., Tomàs, C. & Pujol, R.M. 2004, ";Un nuevo marco para orientar las respuestas a las dinámicas: el paradigma de la complejidad";, Investigación en la Escuela, , pp. 5-19.

Calafell, G., Fonolleda, M. & Querol, M. 2008, ";Propuestas para llegar al currículo";, Cuadernos de Pedagogía, vol. 383, pp. 52-55.

Gardner, G., Assadourian, E. & Sarin, R. 2004, ";L'estat del consum avui"; in L'estat del món 2004: la societat de consum Worldwatch Institute, Barcelona.

Jorba, J. & Sanmartí, N. 1996, Enseñar, aprender y evaluar: un proceso de regulación contínua, MEC, Madrid.

Mayer, M. 2002, ";Ciutadans del barri i del planeta"; in Cinc ciutadanies per a una nova educació, 1a edn, Graó, Barcelona.

Pujol, R.M. 1996, Educación y consumo. La formación del consumidor en la escuela, Horsori, Barcelona.

UNEP & Marrakech Task Force on Education for Sustainable Consumption 2008, ";Here and Now: Education for Sustainable Consumption";, .

The Green Economy Initiative: A new approach to financial and environmental challenges - why multifunctional development is the way forward and the link to sustainable consumption

Elisabeth Kjerstad Bøe

The Green Economy Initiative, a new approach to sustainable market development, was launched by UNEP in October 2008. As the working title ";Global Green New Deal"; suggests, the initiative calls for creative, forward-looking, transformational and integrated approaches to major economic and environmental challenges. The objective is to bring about tomorrow`s economy today. But what does this mean?

The key words are multifunctional development. The green new deal supports initiatives that approach a multiple set of challenges from two perspectives; present and future. Initiatives that deals with as many as possible of the existing economic, social and environmental challenges AND represents a long term potential for sustainable development and dealing with future challenges. For example green innovation and technology and investments in natural infrastructure and human capital. Why is this the way forward?

One major reason is because, in the future, we inevitably have to meet more needs by using less resources. Why? First, along with already existing challenges with poverty, lack of education, health issues, pollution and war - the number of people on this planet is massively increasing. Second, accompanied by the fundamentally wrong way we divide resources between us -the amount of resources required to fulfill the needs of these people puts us light years away from sustainability at the moment. So, how to move forward in the spirit of the green new deal?

This suggests that one of the more challenging tasks for outside-the-box thinkers and the Green Economy Initiative is how to solve the monumental need for more focus on sustainable consumption. It also suggests that it will be vital to the process that there is a recognition of one of the greatest resource we possess; human capital. Future generations of consumers need to be trained in a whole new mindset and way of dealing with global challenges. Therefore, multifunctional development must be carefully linked to the idea of sustainable consumer citizenship and the core values within this movement.

Life Values as the Basis for the Formation of a Citizen

Zoja Chehlova and Mikhail Chehlov

Zoja Chehlova, the University of Latvia, Riga, Ruses14-169, LV-1029, Latvia, t. 29716997, chehlova@inbox.lv

Mikhail Chehlov, the University of Latvia, Riga, Jurmalas gatve 99-70, LV-1029, Latvia, t. 22316064, kerprusov1@inbox.lv


Citizenship education is a very topical issue in Latvia nowadays. Latvia’s regaining of independence and accession to the European Union ensured real freedom of personality and genuine democracy. These were the preconditions for citizenship education to senior secondary school students. However, there can be observed certain contradictions in this process. Teachers try to develop students’ ability to engage in a dialogue with other citizens and their groups and with governmental institutions, to develop responsibility for one’s own actions and choices, students’ understanding of legal and moral obligations to the society and the state, as well as the ability to exercise one’s rights and freedoms not violating the rights and freedoms of other citizens.

At the same time, traditional educational models functioning in Latvia at present do not fully provide young people with the fundamental world outlook necessary to form citizenship. We believe that this is due to the fact that knowledge-based approach rather than value-based approach still dominates in the actual pedagogic practice. We agree with the axiolgical approach of modern pedagogy, according to which the category of value is one of the fundamental categories for the construction of a new paradigm in the philosophy of education. The value orientations of an individual constitute a channel for the acquisition of the spiritual culture of society and for the transformation of objective cultural values into stimuli and motives guiding people’s behaviour.

The analysis of the results of our research has shown that cultural values are the precondition for the effective development of citizenship, which is a very important personality feature.

The purpose of the article is to develop the structure of citizenship education and to determine the effect of life values on the development of citizenship for senior secondary school students.

Key words: citizenship education, citizenship, life values, attitudes.

The Citizenship of Senior Secondary School Students

Most of the contemporary psychologists include the following components in the structure of citizenship education:

the cognitive component (knowledge, notions concerning the state, and awareness of oneself as its citizen);

the axiological component (the system of attitudes and values);

the behavioural component (the realization of oneself as a citizen in a particular society).

Each of these components has its own characteristic features; at the same time, they are all interconnected and interdependent in their actual functioning. This integration of the components of citizenship education makes it possible for individuals to adapt to the changeable conditions of their life activities.

The analysis of the structure of citizenship has enabled us to consider citizenship as an integrative personality feature expressing both moral and legal culture, including the inner freedom of personality, the feeling of dignity, respect, and trust in relation to other citizens, responsibility to the state, and the harmonious combination of national and international feelings.

In our study, we analysed various pedagogic conditions for the formation of positive personality features regarding citizenship.

Objective conditions presuppose the enrichment of the content of education with humanitarian issues. Orientation to humanitarian issues means focusing of education on man.

There was carried out a discussion based on Dostoyevsky’s novel “Crime and Punishment”: “Who am I – “a little man” or a responsible personality?” “Does the development of civic society depend on my activity?” etc.

In our study, there was also determined the subjective component for the development of citizenship – the life values of senior secondary school students.

The Life Values of Senior Secondary School Students as a Condition for the Development of Citizenship

The following objectives were set for the analysis of the life values of senior secondary school students:

  • to study the system of values of senior secondary school students;

  • to analyse their understanding of citizenship values.

The study was carried out in several secondary schools in the city of Riga characterised by various forms regarding the organization of the educational process: Pushkin Lyceum offering specialization in certain areas, Secondary School No 34 specializing in the English language studies, and an ordinary secondary school.

Understanding the development of citizenship as movement towards one’s inner freedom and the awareness of one’s responsibility to the society also requires the analysis of students’ system of values. Citizenship is characterised by a wide range of meaningful values.

Based on the analysis of key value-based human attitudes represented in modern philosophy and psychology (M. Gessen, K. Roger), we have singled out the basic human attitudes:

  • an attitude to self as a value;

  • an attitude to another person as a value;

  • an attitude to freedom as a value;

  • an attitude to independent statehood as a value;

  • an attitude to duty as a value;

  • an attitude to work as a value.

An attitude to Man as the highest value is a system-forming factor concerning the citizenship culture of senior secondary school students.

In order to analyse the values of senior secondary school students, there was used the method of expert assessments. The roles of experts were performed by teachers working with these students. There were developed criteria for assessing value-based attitudes, and the content of the criteria was explained to the teachers.

As a result, there was designed a table of “Highly Significant Values.” These are the values that senior secondary school students should have acquired. In order to determine the general value concentration index, we expressed various levels of the development of these values by numerical values ranging from 0 to 2, where 2 means a high level of the development of these qualities (A); 1 – an intermediate level (B); 0 – a low level or their absence (C). We determined the following standards for attributing students to a certain level:

0 – 0.5 – low level (C)

0.51-0.75 – intermediate level (B)

0.76-1 – high level (A).

Characteristics of the content of the levels of value concentration.

The high level of “value concentration.”

A wide range of highly significant positive values. Senior form students know these values, understand their content, and are guided by these values in their behaviour.

The intermediate level of “value concentration.”

A reasonably high level of highly significant positive values. Senior form students know these values, but are not always guided by them in their behaviour, which depends on a particular situation.

The low level of “value concentration”.

A limited range of highly significant positive values. Senior form students know these values, but they do not understand the content of all values, and are not guided by them in their behaviour.

The teachers of mathematics, literature, and foreign languages took part in the observation and survey. After the teachers had completed the table, the index reflecting the development of highly significant values was determined for each student.

The students whose index ranged from 0.76 to 1 where characterised as having the high level of value concentration.

The number of such students in our sample was as follows:

Pushkin Lyceum – 35,

Secondary School No 34 – 19,

Secondary School No 29 – 10.

If the index ranged from 0.75 to 0.65, the students were characterised as having the intermediate level of value concentration.

Pushkin Lyceum – 45,

Secondary School No 34 – 30,

Secondary School No 29 – 10.

The index lower than 0.5 shows a low level of value concentration.

Pushkin Lyceum – 24,

Secondary School No 34 – 26,

Secondary School No 29 – 30

These data are reflected in the following charts.

Fig.1A. The criterion “value concentration”.

The division of the respondents of the experimental groups into levels at the forming stage of the experiment. October 2005 (%).

High level - 23% - 24 students.

Intermediate level – 34% - 35 students.

Low level – 43% - 45 students.

Fig.1B. The criterion “value concentration”.

The division of the respondents of the control groups into levels at the establishing stage of the experiment. October 2005 (%).

High level – 25% - 19 students. High level – 20% - 10 students.

Intermediate level – 40% - 30 students. Intermediate level – 20% - 10 students.

Low level – 35% - 26 students. Low level – 60% - 30 students.

There should be noted the wide spectrum of highly significant values among the students of Pushkin Lyceum and Riga Secondary School No 34. The students know these values, are aware of their content, but do not always implement them in their behaviour. The students of Riga Secondary School No 29 are characterized by a limited range of significant, a superficial understanding of their content, and low activity with regard of their realization.

The observation of students’ behaviour and their participation in social activities made it possible to draw a conclusion that the students having a high level of value concentration are more actively involved in various social activities (the school parliament, cooperation with various organizations, participation in elections). Consequently, the development of life values is a precondition for the development of citizenship.


As a result of the present study, there could be drawn a conclusion that the development of citizenship is possible in a democratic society, which has formed in Latvia at present.

The axiological approach to the content of education, with cultural values as its central component, promotes the development of citizenship for senior secondary school students.

The subjective factor is very important in the development of this valuable social feature. The subjective factor refers to the development of life values of senior secondary school students. Based on them, a positive attitude to the society, to the state, and to oneself as a citizen, as well as to other citizens of the state is formed.


  1. Gessen (1966) Fundamentals of Pedagogy. Introduction into Applied Philosophy. – Moscow: Pedagogy.

  2. Ginzburg (1994) The Psychological Content of Personality Self-determination // The Issues of Psychology. V 3. pp. 43-52.

  3. Matsumoto (1996) Culture and Psychology. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks / Cole.

  4. Roger (1983) Freedom to Learn for the 80s. – Columbus, Toronto, London, Sydney.

Integrating Education for Sustainable Development in pre service teacher education – opportunities and challenges Amanda Mc Cloat and Helen Maguire

Authors: Amanda Mc Cloat, Lecturer Home Economics Department

Helen Maguire, Lecturer Home Economics Department

Institution: St. Angela's College, Sligo, Ireland

Address: Home Economics Department, St. Angela’s College, Lough Gill, Sligo, Ireland.

Email:amccloat@stacs.edu.ie, hmaguire@stacs.edu.ie,

Quality education can be a key agent of change; initiating, promoting and achieving sustainable consumption. Teacher education has the potential to shape the knowledge, skills and attitudes of future generations thus creating a more sustainable world. The UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), 2005, highlights the need to reorient education towards participatory, process and solution-oriented methodologies, with an emphasis on the development of critical thinking, in order to assist consumers in choosing a sustainable lifestyle.

This paper documents a research project, funded by the Ubuntu Network and Irish Aid, which endeavours to reorient teacher education in order to address ESD themes and to challenge assumptions regarding the integration of sustainable consumption in teacher education. An educational intervention, conducted with Year 1 pre service teachers, aimed to promote improved awareness, attitudes and behaviour towards sustainable issues. The paper details and evaluates the opportunities, as well as the challenges, which face the reorientation of existing teacher education programmes towards participatory, process and solution-oriented methodologies and the effectiveness of positively influencing future practice towards a sustainable lifestyle. This project facilitated higher order thinking which encouraged pre service teachers to engage in critical dialogue on philosophical and ethical issues in relation to sustainable consumption in order to influence their future practice. It reveals the opportunities and challenges which university teachers and researchers face in coordinating and integrating effective education for sustainable development strategies.

Psychometric evaluation of child eating behaviour: a tool to improve education regarding children’s food consumption Luís Miguel Cunha, Ana Pinto de Moura and Ana Sofia Almeida

Luís Miguel Cunha1,3,

Ana Pinto de Moura1,2

Ana Sofia Almeida2

1REQUIMTE, University of Porto, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão,


2Universidade Aberta, Porto, Portugal.

3SAECA, Faculty of Sciences, Univ. Porto, ,

corresponding author e-mail: apmoura@univ-ab.pt

Obesity is a major threat to public health in industrialised countries, with alarming rises

being documented in both adults and children. The damaging consequences for children

with obesity are not confined to copying with physical symptoms or managing the

treatment of secondary diseases such as diabetes; there are also implications for psychosocial

development and well-being. Applying International Obesity Task Force criteria,

rates of overweight and obesity in childhood are currently estimated at 10-20 % in

northern Europe and in Mediterranean countries and southern Europe. Prevalence of

overweight and obesity of 31,6 % has been reported for Portuguese children. In this

context, childhood obesity research and interventions should therefore be a priority for

the public health agenda. From a number of psychometric tools available to assess

children’s eating behaviour the Portuguese translated version of the Child Eating

Behaviour Questionnaire (CEBQ) was choose and applied, from April to May 2007, to

over 320 children, aged 9-10 years and answered by their mothers, while registering

their weight and height. ‘Food approach’ sub-scales and ‘food avoidant’ sub-scales were

related to Body Mass Index, child’s eating habits and TV viewing, Results were

evaluated according to children sex, socio-economic level and maternal education level.

Major results have shown a strong relationship between child eating behaviour and

overweight or obesity.

Key words: CEBQ, 9-10 years old, obesity, Portuguese children

The integration of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into second level initial teacher education (ITE) and continuing professional development (CPD) programmes: Challenges and Opportunities Mella Cusack

Trócaire/CDVEC Curriculum Development Unit (Ireland)


Schools are increasingly expected to address the global challenges associated with sustainable development and teachers therefore need support to engage with, and develop the expertise to raise and address sustainable development issues through the curriculum. The ongoing UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) serves as an important platform for the promotion of active teaching and learning methodologies, and as an impetus for curriculum innovation.

The Citizenship Studies Project (Ireland) is a joint Trócaire/CDVEC Curriculum Development Unit initiative which aims to inform and support the development of second level senior cycle Citizenship Education. The Citizenship Studies Project is a member of UNESCO’s Irish Regional Centre of Expertise for ESD, the Ubuntu Teacher Network and is involved in the delivery of ESD teacher education in initial teacher education (ITE) and continuing professional development (CPD) programmes.

This paper will outline action research undertaken by the Citizenship Studies Project on the integration of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into second level ITE and CPD programmes.

Between October-December 2008 the author facilitated ESD sessions using active teaching/learning methodologies in three distinct ITE programmes with 70 student teachers and a one-day continuing professional development in-service event with 34 practicing teachers. Findings relating to the student/teachers profiled in a baseline questionnaire, including their understandings of ESD and where ESD fits within the second level curriculum, will be discussed. The opinions of practicing teachers on the challenges and opportunities of initiating whole school approaches to ESD will be examined. The paper will conclude with a discussion of the comparative experience of facilitating ESD sessions in ITE and CPD settings.

Conference Theme:

Paper Abstract: Track 2 – Education for Consumer Citizenship (a) Education at schools/universities

Education for Sustainable Development in Action: The use of visual media to promote transformative learning. Mella Cusack and Miriam O’Donoghue

Mella Cusack, CDVEC Curriculum Development Unit/Trócaire, Ireland

Miriam O’Donoghue, CDVEC Curriculum Development Unit, Ireland

(2 hour Workshop)

Linked to Track 2: Education for Consumer Citizenship

The goal of CCN Task Group 8 is to contribute to the growth of consumer citizenship education as a relevant, interdisciplinary theme in primary and secondary school education by preparing and carrying out teacher training seminars on education for sustainable development.

Much of the work of the Task Group to date has focused on empowering teachers and facilitators to use innovative approaches which promote the development, active participation and agency of learners in the classroom and beyond through ‘Active Sustainability’: a range of active teaching and learning strategies and resources linked to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

This hands-on workshop will give participants a taste of the work of effective approaches to consumer citizenship education. It will explore the use of visual mediaas a tool to promote education for sustainable development and as a method of engaging differentiated learners.

Come to this ‘hands on’ workshop prepared to be active participants, roll up your sleeves, work in groups, use your creative skills, but above all have fun while learning.

The Financial Crisis and Consumer Citizenship

Arthur Lyon Dahl

International Environment Forum

Geneva, Switzerland


The concept of consumer citizenship evolved in a period of economic growth and unsustainable consumption. The financial crisis has changed the context radically, creating a wider range of consumer circumstances.

The globalized economy rests on an unlimited growth paradigm, despite warnings about unsustainability. Maintaining growth has meant living beyond available means, accumulating debt at governmental, corporate and individual consumer levels. The banking system collapsed from loss of confidence in debt repayment, producing recession and undercutting consumption. The system has accumulated excessive financial, social and environmental debt.

Today consumer education must address different classes of consumers:

- those who can still afford the consumer society, ethically challenged by their relative wealth;

- those forced out of the consumer society through dispossession, unemployment and loss of savings;

- the poor whose dream of joining the consumer society is now shattered;

- poor victims of economic and environmental catastrophes, paying the biggest price for problems they did not create.

Responding to these groups requires alternative more ethical visions of society and human purpose, shifting emphasis from ";consumer"; to ";citizenship";. This includes detachment from material consumption once basic needs are met, finding true pleasure in voluntary sharing. The economic system should become more altruistic and cooperative, aiming for poverty reduction and employment creation. Consumption should be reoriented towards the more intangible dimensions of civilization: culture, art, science, human consciousness and spirituality. Such consumer citizens will depend less on variations in the material economy, directing their priorities and interests towards a broader vision of human prosperity.


The concept of consumer citizenship evolved in Europe in a period of continuing economic growth leading to excessive consumption that is environmentally unsustainable at the planetary level. The main driving forces for this effort at consumer education were the environmental problems produced by pollution and excessive production of waste, and health problems linked to consumptive lifestyles, together with some concern for the imbalance between industrialized and developing countries. Consumer citizenship education has focused on consuming less and consuming better in societies defined as wealthy in global terms.

With the sudden emergence of a major crisis in the financial system, starting in the United States, the major consumer country and largest economy, but spreading to all parts of the world and extending to the whole economy, the context has changed radically. A deep recession (commentators are still mostly avoiding the term depression) is affecting the whole world and unemployment is rocketing. The British finance minister has described it as the worst recession in 100 years (The Guardian Weekly 13.02.09, p. 12), and governments are taking emergency measures of a scale previously unimaginable. In late February, the head of the European Central Bank said ";We live in non-linear times: the classic economic models and theories cannot be applied, and future development cannot be foreseen"; (quoted in Seager 2009).

The problem may become much worse. A number of European countries are on the brink of insolvency (Spiegel Online 2009). The crisis began with a loss of confidence in the ability of the banking system to honour its obligations resulting in a collapse of credit. Excessive and ";toxic"; debt in the banking system has been transferred to governments in an attempt to restart the system. There is now a real risk of a loss of confidence in the ability of governments to repay their debts, which would result in the collapse of the whole global financial framework underpinning trade and commerce, with unimaginable consequences for the functioning of an increasingly integrated global economy. The only hope is a rapid replacement of an economic system that has proven fundamentally flawed by a new global system with effective governance and proper regulation, while addressing the ethical lapses that have been revealed. This new and still evolving situation has profound implications for consumer citizenship. The following reflections are intended to launch the discussion.


It is important to understand first what went wrong with the economy that caused it to collapsed so readily and unexpectedly. The modern globalized economy has been driven by a growth paradigm that refused to consider any limits, despite decades of warnings about its ultimate unsustainability. The main driver of economic growth has been consumption, and anything that would increase consumption was good for the economy: planned obsolescence, aggressive advertising and marketing, encouraging addiction, carefully orchestrated changes in style, etc. The new information technologies and media have globalized this and made it more effective, so that everywhere people want to live the western consumer lifestyle. Whenever the economy has slowed, there are calls for increased consumption. Citizens in the industrialized countries have come to expect steadily increasing purchasing power, and the prospect of a decline with the recession has triggered strikes and people in the streets.

However, maintaining this growth often required living beyond the available means. Consumer debt has risen steadily, helped by instruments such as credit cards. The average American has 6 credit cards with a median total credit card debt in 2008 of $6,500. The U.S. banking crisis began because of unwarranted mortgage lending for house purchases to people without the means to repay the loans, combined with encouragement to borrow against property for consumer purchases. Growth in consumption turned into a giant pyramid scheme. Debt was accumulated at the governmental, corporate and individual consumer levels. Business cannot function without credit. Investors borrowed to leverage their speculative positions. The American government allowed a steadily growing current accounts deficit as it borrowed 70% of the world's savings to maintain its role as a superpower and the lifestyle to which its population was accustomed, to the greater profit of the business sector.

While there were a few warnings, even from leading economists, that this could not last, life was too good, so no one wanted to believe them. The inevitable collapse of the banking system due to a generalized loss of confidence that these levels of debt could ever be repaid has driven the world into deep recession despite major efforts by governments to inject cash and restore confidence. It is the accompanying collapse in consumption that requires consumer citizenship to rethink its messages.

More worryingly, financial debt is only part of the problem, as there has been a similar world-wide accumulation of social and environmental debt. The increasing warnings of a possible collapse of civilization need to be take seriously (Dahl 2008).


Faced with the present and probable future economic challenges, the underlying concepts of consumer education in Europe need to be re-examined to explore how the approach can be broadened and be made more effective for the wider range of consumer circumstances now present in Europe as well as in developing countries. These could be grouped into different classes of consumers for whom the approach to consumer education needs to be very different:

- those who can still afford the consumer society, but who face the ethical dilemmas of being the ";haves"; surrounded by ";have nots";;

- those who have been forced to drop out of the consumer society through dispossession, unemployment and loss of savings, and have suffered the trauma of finding previous consumptive pleasures now beyond their reach;

- the poor who have dreamed of joining the consumer society, but now find that dream shattered;

- the most disadvantaged of the poor who are often the first victims, who never contributed to the problems but now must pay the biggest price.

For those who are reasonably well-off or materially comfortable, existing arguments for healthy, more energy-efficient and low carbon lifestyles need to be complemented with a stronger ethical dimension of responsibility for global environmental impacts such as climate change, and solidarity with those paying the price. They need to come to a recognition that sustainability and their own future welfare may require wealth redistribution and thus reductions in their own purchasing power and consumer choice. They should come to see the advantages of voluntary simplicity and more emphasis on social relationships and community, so that they realize that they gain more than they give up in this transition.

The newly unemployed and those who have lost homes, savings and pensions need to learn how to get by and meet basic needs on minimal revenue, which means efficient consumption focused on basics. Too many people fall back on fast and unhealthy food, become increasingly sedentary, and make poor consumer choices because they do not have the right knowledge and skills. Obesity is more prevalent among the poor in industrialized countries. Consumer education needs to teach how to live well even when poor.

Those who have always been poor usually know how to get by, although consumer education can probably bring improvements. What is more important is to counteract if not to replace the sales pitch for the Western consumer lifestyle portrayed in the media and advertising with alternative visions of society that are more appropriate and sustainable. Consumer education could become a kind of social and cultural vaccination against the siren call of advertising, building awareness of how one is manipulated into buying unnecessary or even damaging things. This of course will be deeply subversive to the present economic orthodoxy, but that orthodoxy has now discredited itself, and more discerning consumers will help the transition.


In this context, the new response of consumer citizenship to these different groups needs to propose alternative more ethical visions of society and human purpose, with a shift of emphasis from ";consumer"; to ";citizenship";. This requires a spirit of detachment from material consumption once basic needs are met, finding true pleasure in voluntary sharing, social relationships, and intangibles like culture and spirituality. It is at this basic ethical level that the approach to the different consumer groups finds its basic unity. Justice and equity are equally relevant to the rich and the poor, even if their expression in action will be different in each case.

A first step can be to reveal the hollowness of the present consumer society in ethics, values and meaning, so that those within it do not regret the sacrifices they are called on to make, and those who have dropped out of it into poverty or who never could do more than admire it from a distance give up their attachment to materialistic desires and turn their attention towards alternative visions of the society of the future, and actions that are accessible to everyone.

For example, a recent Bahá'í text contains the following critique:

";Consumer culture, today's inheritor by default of materialism's gospel of human betterment, is unembarrassed by the ephemeral nature of the goals that inspire it. For the small minority of people who can afford them, the benefits it offers are immediate, and the rationale unapologetic. Emboldened by the breakdown of traditional morality, the advance of the new creed is essentially no more than the triumph of animal impulse, as instinctive and blind as appetite, released at long last from the restraints of supernatural sanctions. Its most obvious casualty has been language. Tendencies once universally castigated as moral failings mutate into necessities of social progress. Selfishness becomes a prized commercial resource; falsehood reinvents itself as public information.... Under appropriate euphemisms, greed, lust, indolence, pride - even violence - acquire not merely broad acceptance but social and economic value. Ironically, as words have been drained of meaning, so have the very material comforts and acquisitions for which truth has been casually sacrificed."; (Bahá'í World Centre, 2005, p. 10)

One new challenge for consumer education is the fact that the years ahead will likely see either an unprecedented economic disaster or a rapid evolution towards an alternative economic system in which the concept of consumption will be very different from that of today. The growth paradigm on which the present economy has been based was founded on four fundamental drivers: population growth, the energy subsidy from cheap fossil fuels, discovery and exploitation of new natural resources, and technological innovation. However the world population should plateau around 2050; oil production is expected to peak shortly and climate change requires a rapid transition to renewable energy; the planet has now been quite thoroughly explored and its resources overexploited. This leaves only innovation as an economic driver, and this will produce a different kind of system. It is not yet possible to imagine what that might be like. However, at an ethical level, it is possible to suggest some of the design principles that will have to underly this new economic system to make it socially and environmentally sustainable.

In a sustainable society, the goal of wealth creation should be to make everyone wealthy, which would give everyone access to reasonable levels of consumption to meet basic needs. The economic system therefore needs to be reoriented to become more altruistic and cooperative, aiming for poverty reduction, employment creation, and providing the means to advance the more intangible dimensions of civilization: culture, art, science, human consciousness and spirituality. Consumption of these intangibles does not have to be limited and escapes from the economic concept of scarcity; the more knowledge is shared, the more valuable it becomes, not for a specific owner, but for the whole of society. If each individual sees his/her reward in service to others rather than self-acquisition, then consumption becomes merely acquiring the capacities and tools necessary to be of service, rather than an end in itself. The economy will be driven not by maximizing consumption but by the fulfilment of all the human potential for wealth creation, including in that concept much more than material wealth.


It is important that consumer education not be founded primarily on a negative critique of the consumer society, but that it propose positive alternatives such as those outlined above. Where such concepts would have been rejected as idealistic if not utopian only a year ago, the economic world has now been stripped of its certainties and shaken to its roots, and does not know where to go next. This is the perfect opportunity for a wide public debate on the alternatives, and consumer citizenship provides an excellent framework for such a debate in an educational context.

It is also important to go from general principles and values to specific actions. This is a constant demand in discussions of environmental sustainability or responding to climate change (Dahl 2008a). Just as the economy is driven by many individual acts of consumption, so many small acts of individual responsibility can sum up to a significant positive change at the global level. Class discussions can focus on choices that are immediately relevant. For example, material signs of identity or belonging to a group are an important characteristic of youth culture, but they do not have to be particular clothing styles or brand names cultivated by the manufacturers for commercial ends.

Another advantage of values-based consumer citizenship education is that it is more adaptive and flexible in times of rapid and perhaps turbulent change. Education about particular consumer choices becomes less relevant if those choices are no longer available, whereas values are equally relevant in new contexts.

With the major challenges we now face, new partners are joining in the effort to change lifestyles at a large scale. The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and UNDP are working with all the major religions to prepare action plans on climate change and the natural environment for presentation to governments at the Copenhagen climate change conference in December 2009 (ARC 2008). These are intended to be seven-year plans for generational change, and will give a major push to values-based responses to our present unsustainability.

One challenge is to measure the effectiveness of education aiming to form or implement values, as is often the case in consumer citizenship. A project has just begun with European Commission funding for a partnership of academic institutions and a variety of civil society organizations to develop values-based indicators of education for sustainable development. Five organizations are involved initially, but a larger number will be invited to join as the project develops over the next two years. The results will certainly be of interest to the partners in CCN.

These are only small actions relative to the scale of the problems facing the world, but they have the potential to leverage much larger effects because of the power of action at the level of values. Using such approaches, the new consumer citizen will be better protected from the ups and downs of the material economy because his/her real priorities and interests will be directed towards a much broader definition of human prosperity.


ARC. 2008. UN/ARC: The Seven Year Plan. Alliance of Religions and Conservation. /projects.asp?projectId=358 (consulted 1 March 2009)

Bahá'í World Centre. 2005. One Common Faith. Báhá'í World Centre, Haifa. /en/t/bic/OCF/

Dahl, Arthur Lyon, 2008a. The ethical challenges of global change as a motivator for consumer citizenship, p. 21-32. In Alexandra Klein and Victoria W. Thoresen (eds.), Assessing Information as Consumer Citizens. Consumer Citizenship: Promoting New Responses, Vol. 4. Hedmark College, Hamar, Norway, Consumer Citizenship Network. Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference of the Consumer Citizenship Network, Tallinn, Estonia, 5-6 May 2008. Electronic version at /ief/doc/ddahl08a.htm

Dahl, Arthur Lyon. 2008b. Preventing Overshoot and Collapse: Managing the Earth's Resources. Paper on the introductory theme of the 2008 UNEP/University of Geneva/Graduate Institute Environmental Diplomacy Course, August 2008. /ief/doc/ddahl08d.htm

Seager, Ashley. 2009. Torrent of bad news ends hope of 'quick' recession. The Guardian Weekly, 27 February-5 March 2009, p. 1-2.

Speigel Online. 2009. Can countries Really Go Bankrupt? Speigel Online 30 January 2009. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,604523,00.html (viewed 2 February 2009)

Consumer Governance


Peter Daub





Every time we take a decision to buy a product or to pay for a service WE decide who's going to work for us as a farmer, physician, teacher, politician, or taxidriver.. At the same time the euros yens or dollars we pay are starting a new round. For thousands of years already we're playing this game called ";economy";  based on the division of labour and the exchange of the resulting products and services. Almost everybody in the world plays a double-role on this worldstage as consumer and as producer. But the consumer is always the one who asks the questions and pays the bills. But with the freedom to choose he or she is of course also responsible for those choises! And that's what we call ";consumer governance"; to be understood in the same range as corporate governance and government governance as credo's for responsible behaviour.



Towards an economy of question and answer


From a pure do-it-yourself economy where we made our own tent, travelled around to hunt our own food, we didn't hesitate for long to divide all labour and started the first barter-economy to favour the possibilities of specializing, efficiency and dividend called welfare! After a long time it became a world economy with trade and banks in between. And still everry minute new divisions of work are arranged between people, between departments or complete organizations and even countries. Constantly searching for the optimum that labour can be divided for more efficiency, but sometimes integrated again when new insights say that some tasks are better united within one job or one organization.


To divide labour is one step. In fact we are creating a polarity in producing and consuming which has to be connected again by exchange the results which are products or services. In a barter economy everything is transparant enough to exchanges things without money and trade. But when the economic network is growing we will need trading people and transport systems. When growing even wider we'll need some kind of administration and money also. And this is how worldeconomy works now!


Economy started from the consumer in early history and still starts every minute now. Instead of doing it ourselves we ask the painter to paint our house, we ask the garage to repair our car, we ask the politicians to write down laws about what we think is reasonable in our relations to our neighbors worldwide! But in the centuries behind this was mainly managed by leaders and leading corporate and government organizations. Today consumers and consumer organizations are more and more taking the lead in asking the questions, making marketing become bottom-up! From supply and demand to question and answer! 



Consumers and consumerorganizations in action


In the years after the Second World War the new generation became aware that a new world order was necessary and protests culminated around the world in 1968 at universities in Berkeley California, Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam. In all the areas of human daily needs people began to talk, to think about quality and new organizational structures, and started informal and formal organizations to participate in culture, government and business. After the great ";renaissance"; of individual thinking since the beginning of natural sciences in the 16th century and the introduction of democracy in the French revolution of 1789, the 21st century will start the era of consumer governance!


Since the beginning of the century the general consumer organizations had already emerged and were coordinating their efforts from 1960 and thereafter in the International Organization of Consumer Unions IOCU now called Consumers International. (see annex). The seventies became the beginning of all categorical consumer organizations: patients, parents of schoolchildren, travellers, housing, food, etc etc. And in the eighties alternative banks emerged all over Europe. Finally in this century consumer-education started up to give all the knowledge and experience to our next generation, with the Consumer Citizen Network CCN as frontrunners!


But there's still a lot to be done in professionalizing the bottom-up marketing worldwide! Although big companies are also willing to help in delivering affordable products to even the poorest people in the world at the bottom of the pyramid, more and more consumers today are not only enthousiast but now also willing to verify, to choose and to pay for the most sustainable products and services! These are observations that we can make all around us in shops, discussion groups and workshops. Not only the generation of the sixties but even more this upcoming generation! And the most interesting observation one can make is that all the journalists in press radio and tv have changed the last two years into researchers, storytellers and moderators in looking for solutions together with all parties in culture society and economy instead of reporting only!


And this allround mentality is the necessary basis for all problems and solutions ahead because everything is connected with everything. Nobody can make any judgement anymore without looking from the greatest possible horizon. Only with the best information one can make a real free choise in products and services and will be willing to pay or even finance for the right price, for sustainabilty and fair trade. Consumers are the first who aask the questions based on all daily needs, the consumer-organizations are there to collect all the questions where tailor-made products or services are not possible but serie- and massproduction have to be optimized.



Everyday practice and new developments.


Untill today the consumer organizations developed from small groups of consumers to all kinds of organizations in all sizes with some of them even highly professionalized. Since the last two years even the most down-to-earth sector food and agriculture is emerging now! Due to the fast forward growing market for organic and biodynamic products and the culinair culture of good taste. Top cooks are invited to tv programs and the EU parliament was invited this summer for a complete lunch with the best products nature itself can offer.


Although many many progress is made through the last few decennia, the greater public still has to go in a higher gear to make the world sustainable again and to play their role in a new world of good governance in economy, democracy and a culture of science education religion art and development. For the near future it will be more and more important to look at the whole picture and see how all actions are connected to each other. Most essential is the discussion now about the disconnection of labour and income again in its economic and its justicial aspects again,  people worldwide are already discussing these problems since two years about basic incomes, top salaries, and the whole spectrum in between. When this discussion becomes more transparent then only then all the other problems in the world will become 100% transparent also because everybody can finally focus on the essence of their jobs instead of on their income alone. (see annex / About the quality of life / Tilburg conference January 10, 2008 following the OECD conference in Brussels november 2007 ";Beyond GDP - From wealth to welfare";).


Because more and more people become aware that money is important but quality of life is first priority for all six billion members of the world family, most discussions are already in a current where we are talking about food, about water, about sustainabilty, about everything, and, moderated by modern highly interested journalists, become more professuional every day!


The newest developments are those where people are working towards long term sustainable solutions, in consumer-producer relations now also in the chain of food to agriculture, in the integration of all old and new professions in medicare including all alternatives, in the ";meet and greet"; of civilizations and religions thanks to the disaster of  9/11, and all other discussions to the bottom of the problems to be solved! But still it's only the beginning of the future!



Consumer freedom and responsibility


We're free to choose as Milton Friedman already said, but of course we're also responsible for every choice we make! And that means that we have the basic need of maximum of information, another need for all possible arguments and overview of all consequences according to other people and nature to make the best of all choices, and finally accept that we pay with every euro yen or dollar for all the results in quality of life for ourselves and all the people working for us in the whole chain! This is in the first place basic education for all generations to come in the same way as we learn to bike or to drive a car!


Consumer governance means education first, good management information on a daily basis, lifelong learning in judging products services and situations, and the right financial registration to reflect and to evaluate one's own decisions. A simple houshold booklet with twelve columns for our daily needs makes the world economy transparant and so the role we play from month to month!


Consumer Citizens as Leading Innovators – Enhancing Value Creation Potential through Consumer-Consumer-Interaction

Benjamin Diehl and Ulf Schrader

Dipl.-Psych. Benjamin Diehl

Technical University Berlin

Institute for Vocational Training and Work Studies

Franklinstr. 28/29

10587 Berlin

Tel. +49-30-314 73 354

Mobil. +49-176-24163821

EMail benjamin.diehl@tu-berlin.de



Prof. Dr. Ulf Schrader

Technical University Berlin

Institute for Vocational Training and Work Studies

Franklinstr. 28/29

10587 Berlin

Tel. +49-30-314 28769

Mobil: +49-177-5264 425

Email: schrader@tu-berlin.de



We base this conceptual paper on the assumption that sustainable consumption can be enhanced, facilitated and accelerated by service and product innovations in the sustainability context10 and that the success factors of innovation management, namely a) strong market-orientation and b) heigh creative potential are promisingly realized by integrating users in the innovation process (Lüthje/Herstatt 2004; von Hippel, 2005; Franke/von Hippel/Schreier 2006).

We understand sustainable consumption – directly referring to the World Commission of Environment and Development (1987) definition of sustainability – as the use of goods and services, that satisfies consumer needs, preserves the environment and natural resources by also being socially responsible and economically stable.

This concept is obviously closely related to the definition of a consumer citizen, understood as an individual who makes systematic choices based on the above mentioned sustainable considerations (CCN 2005).

We argue very much in line with the priorities of the Agenda 21 (UN 1992), namely the need for action a) to change patterns of consumption and production that contradict the idea of sustainability and b) to deepen our understanding of consumer behavior and to enrich our knowledge about how to foster sustainable consumption more effectively.

Defining a) as the invention, development and use of sustainable technologies and b) as an innovative way to identify special consumer needs as well as the diffusion of products and services that enable sustainable consumption patterns on the mass market, we directly come to the main objectives of this paper, i.e. clarifying the importance of innovations in the sustainability context in general and the promising concept of user integration in innovation processes in particular.


2.2. Relevance of Sustainability Innovations

When aiming at enabling, facilitating and accelerating sustainable consumption, innovations of products and services in the field of sustainability have to meet or even exceed existing standards concerning usability, convenience, affordability and amortization.

Here the central role of companies that develop and promote these innovations becomes overt. But why should companies engage in such an “open-(for-sustainable)-innovation” behavior? We state that there is an enormous push factor for corporations to be sustainable and to be innovative accordingly, namely the economic dimension. Sustainable innovations should not be considered as optional activities any more but strategic necessities.

Innovations in general became the essential success factor on globalized and mostly saturated markets. Facing a market situation in which physical-technical quality characteristics of products are often not substantially distinguishable anymore, innovations can proactively counteract this complex problem of product-differentiation by making use of opportunities resulting from evolving consumer needs and additional product requirements (Trommsdorff/ Steinhoff 2006).

Management and its R&D-departments have to focus increasingly on innovations, meaning a) radical new product- and service-developments to fill out a market niche or b) innovation processes that concentrate on the diffusion of former niche products to the mass market. In the context of enhancing diffusion of products, we also observe a general increase of importance concerning new and competitive communication-strategies on modern markets that enable products and services to be distinguishable on the market, e. g. by experience-oriented marketing approaches or by integrating dialogical communication-platforms to meet consumer needs better and directly (Chaudhuri/Holbrook 2001; Reichwald/Piller 2006).

These observations result in following questions that are closely related with each other: Firstly, how to get a detailed insight of consumer needs and their demands on new products? Secondly, how to foster a successful diffusion on the mass market?

Coming to the first question: Are there new, evolving consumer needs? We observe societal changes in regard of values and norms related to consumption behavior, based on a sensitization for ethical and sustainable themes. Promoting sustainable innovations is therefore not restricted to special interest groups anymore but should be positioned as socially and ecological responsible alternatives on the mass market (Fricke/Schrader 2009).

Are there special product requirements? There is not only demand for sustainable products themselves, but furthermore the need to facilitate their use in everyday life (Heis-kanen/Kasanen/Timonen 2004). Facilitation includes striving for technical maturity, easy application as well as providing all necessary information about production and handling. Especially concerning sustainable consumption there is still insufficient knowledge on the consumer side; which is essential, because even the most sustainable products can only unfold their full impact if they are used correctly (Hoffmann et al. 2004).

Now coming to the second question: How to foster a successful diffusion on the mass market? The latter points already highlighted necessary basics for a successful introduction, pro-motion and finally diffusion of sustainable innovations on the mass market. But today’s marketing research and advertising agencies still cannot prevent flop rates of up to 90%. In this context again „customer or market orientation is amongst the most important success factors for new products” (Hoffmann 2007: S. 352). New attempts to enable companies to get a detailed insight in consumer needs will be necessary.

To sum up this paragraph, we can state that taking sustainability and innovation together evolving “sustainnovations” offer great potentials to foster socially and environmentally responsible behaviour by enabling companies to be successful on high competitive markets. Sustainability can be seen as one of the major drivers of the so called competitive innovation advantage (Trommsdorff/Steinhoff 2006) nowadays, namely by successfully meeting demands concerning the fulfilling of certain consumer demands, corresponding recognition as satisfying by consumers and –by its inner most meaning- especially not being seen as running risk to be invalidated by its environment.

Figure 1: Competitive Innovation Advantage (Source: own illustration, referring to Trommsdorff/Steinhoff 2006, p. 76)

2.2. Types of User Integration

Both on the level of product development and in the area of communication the transparent and dialogical integration of consumers in the innovation process has some important advantages. When the users’ experiences and everyday knowledge concerning specific products are put together with the expertise of companies, processes of mutual learning, divergent thinking and the revealing of implicit, “sticky” information can be successfully activated (Kristensson/Gustafsson/Archer 2004; von Hippel 2005; Hoffmann 2007).

The different value creation potentials of this user integration can be linked to certain phases of the innovation process, e.g. product-development, design or promotion (Reichwald/Piller 2006). Advantages that are especially important on the high-competitive consumer goods market are: a) increased market acceptance by attending to consumer needs at an early stage, b) reducing the risk of a flop by the identification and the avoidance of barriers impeding (regular) consumption patterns, c) successful diffusion on the mass market and d) betimes evaluation of socio-ecological effects resulting from sustainable consumption (Lüthje/Herstatt 2004; Hoffmann 2007).

Still not all users can be comparably effectively and efficiently integrated in the innovation process. In the innovation management literature especially the concept of the so called lead user became of central interest (von Hippel 1986; Lüthje/Herstatt 2004; Franke/von Hippel/Schreier 2006).

2.2.1. Lead User

The term “lead user” was introduced by Eric von Hippel (1986). He stated that concerning the innovativeness there is a progressive segment of users who are well ahead of ordinary users. Lead users are highly valuable persons in the innovation context, because they actively initiate inventions and are -with their special knowledge and motivation- driving forces throughout the different innovation phases. Their working results are consequently product inventions with high market potential (Lüthje/Herstatt 2004; Franke/von Hippel/Schreier 2006; Hoffmann 2007).

These lead users can be identified by two characteristics:

1. They are ahead of a certain trend, this means, they have new needs –not yet satisfied by existing market offers- significantly earlier than the mass market.

2. Consequently they expect high benefit from inventions that provide a solution to those identified problems and needs.

Especially for the consumer goods market, these characteristics can be differentiated in more detail. We define lead users by scoring high on the dimensions 1) new needs, 2) opinion leadership, 3) dissatisfaction with existing products, 4) use experience, 5) know-how concerning materials and technologies and 5) high involvement (Lüthje 2000; Walcher 2006).

2.2.2. Consumer Citizens as Sustainability Lead Users

We would appraise corporate citizens as lead users in the sustainability context, because they act intentionally according to sustainable categories, realizing that there is a strong need for action concerning socio-ecological grievances worldwide. Their capability to make consumption choices in line with sustainable and ethical considerations has its foundation in their profound consumption related experiences and knowledge. Thereby consumer citizens can be classified as progressive and leading compared to the mass market. Additionally we assume a pronounced involvement of consumer citizens, resulting from a high identification with sustainability-endeavors and obvious dissatisfaction with existing consumption patterns, products and service offerings. Therefore consumer citizens very much qualify themselves for being role models and opinion leaders in their surroundings in the context of sustainability. Corporate citizens have consequently the capability and basic motivation to adopt central roles in the invention, introduction and diffusion phases of sustainable innovation processes.

2.3. Methods of User Integration

Looking at the different methods of user-integration in the context of sustainability inno-vations, we can classify these methods following the structuring of Pobisch, Eckert & Kuster-mann (2007) along two dimensions, namely interaction and integration (see figure 2). These dimensions focus exclusively on the dyad consumer-corporation. Especially innovation-workshops but also communities, enable high integration and high interaction of both players. If the influence on consumers as co-designers (mass customization) or co-producers (open innovation) is taken seriously, high integrationin corporate processes has to be given, but especially the dimension of interaction has to be focused on.

Figure 2: Extended model of the methods of user-integration (Source: own illustration, following Pobisch/Eckert/Kustermann 2007, p. 6)

3. Consumer-Consumer-Interaction as Key Element of User Integration

We state that the two dimensions considered in figure 2 do not capture the phenomena of user-integration-methods on a central point: The great potential of a community or an innovation-workshop does not exclusively stem from the interaction of the corporation and the user, but especially lies in the cooperation, social exchange and collaborative idea generation of users with each other. They create a myriad of ideas, motivate each other and use synergistic effects to perform more effectively and efficiently as a group as they could have done as individuals. Therefore, the central extension of this concept is the introduction of consumer-consumer-interaction as third dimension.

Extending the model of methods of user integration (Pobisch et al. 2007) and analyzing the concept of interactive value creation (Reichwald/Piller 2006) on a new dimension is a promising supplement of current research approaches mainly focusing on individuals and their bidirectional exchange with companies. However, to make use of consumer-consumer-interaction, certain success factors have to be considered.

3.1. Success Factors of Consumer-Consumer-Interaction

In this context especially one enabling and therefore basic success factor is the Worldwide Web, which makes user integration and interaction possible that is not restricted by time or place. These aspects are already represented in the dimensions of Pobisch et al. (2007). But in the context of fast IC-technical advances -especially in the field of the so called Web 2.0 and its social software- the newly introduced third dimension of consumer-consumer-interaction has become increasingly interesting for internet users worldwide as an opportunity to represent themselves, to form groups as well as to generate and upload own content. In this context again, the focus on group dynamics evolving through these newly established online-interaction-tools is a promising and up-to-date research topic (Hagel/Amstrong 1997; Kozinets 2002; Füller et al. 2006).

We then propose to differentiate the success factors and their value creation potential to three phases (see figure 3). Firstly, we analyze the ex ante factors of participating in an interaction in the innovation context: What do we expect by participating in a group? Which social needs can be satisfied through group membership? Secondly, we concentrate on the process phase and the underlying group dynamics from an holistic perspective: Which synergistic potentials evolve, when people with different competences, creative potentials, vocational backgrounds, ages and needs work together? What will be the difference for a company to work with a group of voluntary innovators and not concentrating on the single individuals? And ending with the questions, which subsequent phenomena and productive outcomes of cooperating individuals can be expected (ex post factors)?

Figure 3: Research Model of Consumer-Consumer-Interaction Potentials

3.1.1.Ex Ante Factors

One focus is to identify the fundamentals and substructures encouraging non-paid participation and voluntary engagement. Basic psychological motives like achievement, affiliation and power (McClelland 1985) have to be applied on participants and complemented by motives special for group memberships, like need for social appraisal, peer recognition and identification with the in-group as well as just enjoying to be socializing (Hennig-Thurau et al. 2004; Füller et al. 2006). The special extension of our research will be a strong focus on potential differences of participation motives in the context of sustainability in contrast to participation in “ordinary” innovation areas, assumingly foremost a) realization of a strong need for action, b) expecting high benefit from solving the “problem” and c) social appraisal.

3.1.2. Process Factors

This aspect is the focal point, because it reflects best the substantial extension of the structuring of user-integration-methods mentioned before (Pobisch et al. 2007). Many success-factors of people working together as teams and groups are well known in the literature of the occupational- and organizational psychology. Therefore, modern businesses are grounded on working groups (Benders/Huijgen/Pekruhl 2001). Groups are successful for improving decision making, facilitating the solving of problems, enhancing productivity by combining complementary abilities and competencies, and last but not least, working in groups is more enjoyable than working alone (Diehl/Stroebe 1991; Glassop 2002). Additionally cooperating individuals can enhance their creative potential (Perry-Smith/Shalley 2003; Baer/Jacobsohn/Hollingshead 2007). These findings have been widely neglected in the context of innovation management but we believe they are crucial here as well.

3.1.3. Ex Post Factors

The central thesis states that through consumer integration, sustainable innovations and con-sequently sustainable consumption is going to be realized, improved and accelerated. Following the credo “From knowledge to behavior”, we could appraise consumer-consumer-interaction enabling platforms as interactive knowledge-oriented techniques, which are impactful instruments for “sustainability education” of consumers.

On the other hand, they could also be classified as norm-oriented techniques. When defining these interacting and cooperative consumers, especially online communities, as defined groups, important psychological phenomena can evolve that would be helpful to foster sustainable consumption behavior: By offering a chance to identify with, groups build up a collective identity, commitment to the cause and a certain shared attitude, which will foster corresponding behavior (Ajzen 1985; Sewell 1998; Thøgersen 2004).

Loyalty and group-approved behavior will be important in the context of fostering sustainable consumption but also essential in the context of a successful relationship management of companies. The consumers’ attitude, satisfaction and loyalty related to certain products should be partly transferable to the company. Especially loyalty is seen as the key driver of managerial success on consumer markets (Chaudhuri/Holbrook 2001).

4. Conclusion

Sustainable innovations offer a great potential to foster socially and environmentally responsible behaviour of consumers and enable companies to be successful on high competitive markets. By integrating users, the priorities of market-orientation and high creative potential can promisingly be realized. Especially in the context of sustainability, consumer citizens qualify themselves very much -with regards to their capabilities and basic motivation- as sustainable lead users.

Beneath the characteristics of the individual who should be integrated, we emphasized the importance and the essential impact of cooperation and social exchange in the context of innovation, extending existing research on methods of user integration and interactive value creation in open innovation processes by the newly introduced consumer-consumer-interaction dimension.

We then proposed to differentiate the success factors and their value creation potential of interaction to three phases. Firstly, the ex ante factors, namely motivational aspects of participation, which in the context of sustainability is determined by the strong need to act and the expectation of beneficial outcome if realized successfully. Secondly, process factors concentrating on group dynamics from a holistic perspective, especially heightened efficiency and effectiveness known from modern organizations based on working groups, now transferred to voluntary and autonomic groups of users in the open innovation context. Thirdly, ex post factors, meaning the influence of interaction on the attitude and behavior of the individual, focusing on its relevance for fostering sustainable consumption and enabling companies to be successful on the economic dimension.

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Trommsdorff, V.; Steinhoff, F., 2006. Innovationsmarketing. München: Vahlen.

United Nations, 1992. Agenda 21 - Konferenz der Vereinten Nationen für Umwelt und Entwicklung im Juni 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Internet: http://www.agenda21-treffpunkt.de/archiv/ag21dok/index.htm (last access: 01.03.09).

von Hippel, E., 1986. Lead Users - A Source of novel product concepts, Management Science, 32, pp. 791-805.

von Hippel, E. (2005): Democratizing Innovation, Internet: http://web.mit.edu/evhippel/www/democ1.htm, (last access: 01.03.09)

Walcher, D. (2007): Der Ideenwettbewerb als Methode der aktiven Kundenintegration: Theorie, empirische Analyse und Implikationen für den Innovationsprozess (the idea competition as a method of active user integration). Wiesbaden: Gabler.

World Commission of Environment and Development, 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks.

New Communication Technologies And The Co-operation Between Producers And Consumers

V. Dimitrova and T. Atanasova

Assoc. Prof. Violeta Dimitrova Ph.D. Assoc. Prof. Todorka Atanasova Ph.D.

Ass. Prof. Diyan Dimitrov

University of Economics – Varna, Bulgaria

bul.”Kniaz Boris I”, 77

Tel. +359 52 660 265

+359 52 660 445

+359 52 660 491




The new information and communication technologies (ICT) support the exchange of information and ideas not only between consumers but also between consumers and producers while the consumers are not only a channel for information but also a supplier for ideas and information. Digital technologies offer both a way to establish a dialogue and the convenience of co-operation between consumers and producers during the processes of developing, distribution, exchange and consumption. They create preconditions for the consumers to organize themselves in groups of citizens (Hermes 2009) and to share control over the access and the contents of the message. Structure of society including the producer-consumer relation can not develop freely from the impact of the new ICT. On the basis of the thesis stated above, the aim of this report is to study the way communication technologies like Internet, TV, mobile devices and social networks affect the co-operation between consumers and producers.

Development of new communication technologies is on different levels around the world which determines the different possibilities for consumers to act as citizens. Thus we subscribe to Beynon-Davies’ and Hill’s opinion that increased usage of ICT in the private and public enterprise can be considered as potentially creating a “digital divide” between those who have access to technology and those who do not. For the purpose of surveying the differences in gaining access, calculating a “digital divide index” (DDIX) is offered, based on gender, age, education and income segmentation of citizens (Beynon-Davies and Hill 2007). According to Euromonitor data, Internet users in Eastern Europe are increasing rapidly (fig.1) for the period 2003-2008 but Internet purchases over the Internet from end clients or end transactions remain comparatively low.

Fig.1. Internet users(thousands of users)11

In Bulgaria, for example, it is observed that the difference in types of enterprises using Internet, according to the scale of their activity, is decreasing. (fig.2, fig.3)

Fig.2 Share of enterprises using Internet in 2005 and 200712

Fig.3 Usage of IT networks in enterprises in 2005 and 2007

Internet Personal TV (IPTV) integrates the best between Internet and TV. Two-thirds of IPTV subscribers in the world are European. Personalized TV allows the producers to view statistics of consumers’ behaviour when they are watching advertising, to choose target groups, to set limitation of advertise frequency, to view requests for more information, etc. The consumer chooses what and when to view. This way they can quickly multiply the effect of what has caught their attention. Digital TV implication changes the consumption framework (fig.4).

Analogue TV

Digital TV

Limited choice

Wider choice

On schedule

On demand

Linear broadcast

Multi-stream broadcast



Full screen

Multi-part screen

Within the sweep of programs

Without the sweep of programs

Fig.4. The new Digital TV framework

Video Sharing refers to websites or software where users can distribute their video clips13. Video Sharing services can be classified into several categories, such as:

  • user generated video sharing websites;

  • video sharing platform;

  • web based video editing.

The Video Sharing Platform allows building Brand Awareness. Company's unique message (logo) will receive full expression in/on a video platform. It will put the consumer/user in complete control of his/her Video Content. He/she decides which related videos appear alongside his/her video content. Consumer’s content will be completely protected from sites that want to lift his/her material. The Video Sharing Platform allows posting videos that conform to consumer’s desire for quality.

The penetration of mobile TV is currently small for Europe but it is more advanced in Asia. The causes are the limited number of available channels on mobile TV networks, the debate over technological standards and the search for a good business model, etc. Mobile TV may be watched not only on mobile phones, but also on other portable devices.

Social Networks appear around 2002-2003 year to allow users to make personalized profiles and organize their friends’ connections. They are centered on a person and his/her friends. (Examples: LinkedIn (US), Viadeo (Fr), Xing (G).) In 2004-2005 year they turned into advanced socializing tools such as social media sites. They allow multi-dimensional on-line connections between users. (Examples: MySpace (US), Facebook (US), Bebo (UK), etc. Facebook is the striking phenomenon of the 2007- 2008 year14.)

In the recent years we may observe the following developments:

  • Specialization and creating professional networks;

  • Erasure of the borders between professional and private areas.

Social networks are radically different from traditional media. They are private environments and require communication through relevant to users services and content. It is necessary to ask for permission to advertise, learn from what people are saying and place it in marketing approaches. Quality of contact and relevance are required more than frequency and impact (fig.5).

Fig.5. Popular social networks users by region 15 (2007)

The following developments of the social networks are expected:

  • More interoperability and openness between networks. This service would allow users easily to transfer profile information across social sites.

  • Increasing competition will lead to geographic and demographic expansion.

Measuring the impact of communication in social media is technology-based and survey- based. The traditional available metrics today are:

  • activity of the users such as time spent, frequency of visits, etc.;

  • socio-demographic metrics;

  • number of downloads, comments, etc.

One of the questions we try to answer is: Hasthe media interactivity been used more in public interest or rather for the productive activity of marketing of producers and commerce? On one hand, new information technologies help people to express themselves, create and share content, communicate and socialize. In this way they allow the increase and fostering of consumer power and involvement. Therefore, if the technology is created for open communication, it will have the characteristics allowing free access to information. This aids users not only as consumers and observers, but also as participants in business processes. Consumers have the opportunity to take part in discussions and also to give suggestions (even specifications like determining the design of the product) which supports their interest rights as citizens.

On the basis of the above mentioned, the possibilities provided for consumers by the new ICT can be summarized:

  • Gaining control over access to information;

  • Access to discussions and the possibility to set topics;

  • Changing the contents of the message;

  • Giving opinions and ideas about products and helping other clients;

  • Increased effectiveness in the consumers’ process of choosing;

  • Taking part in the specification of products and services, designing and advertising them.

All this leads to the increase of consumers’ influence, which compels producers and dealers to adjust their offers with the individual preferences. Hence for the producers becomes a crucial point the identification of the overlap between a brand message and community needs and to invite the public to participate in corporate creative strategy. On the other hand producers strive for maintaining corporate control over messaging. (Weiser and Lapsansky 2008:1251)

New ICT provide new possibilities for producers:

  • Provide user tracing and measuring the effectiveness of the advertisement (click-through);

  • The advertisement does not cause the user’s indignation like the aggressive advertisement, they turn into a process of publishing/subscribing focusing on the contents (Bloor 2000:105), transition from “interruption marketing” to “permitted marketing”;

  • Companies take advantage of the users’ interactive communities in order to get in touch with their clients (Kotler, Dirak and Maesincee 2003:139) to gather information about their interests, activities and needs and to adapt their offers better;

  • Feed-back gives the opportunity for producers to evaluate reality accurately and quickly adapt to changes, which increases their competitive power.

Profiling becomes easier because all the time people scatter digital traces of themselves on the Internet. The companies are engaged in profiling in order to better target customers for products and services (Wright 2008). In this way governments and industries accumulate more power at the expense of citizens-consumers and with the following risk of citizens’ behaviour to be manipulated.16

The National Statistical Institute (NSI) of Bulgaria surveyed the use of software for managing information about clients (Consumer Relationship Marketing - CRM) for the first time in 2007 (fig.6).

Fig.6 Share of enterprises using software application for managing information about clients (CRM)17

As the ICT are developing, producers are increasingly realizing the necessity of co-operation with clients due to the lowering of entry barriers for new competitors, which increases the intensity of the struggle between producers for the limited resource – clients, and determines the need to make every offer individual and to reduce transaction expenses. New competitors are finding it easier to make their way into the market by means of spreading information.

Clients grow increasingly informed and their adherence to trademarks yields to the search for functional usefulness. They are also increasingly aware of the prices so intensity of competition in branches, aimed at end consumers is growing. In other words, ICT are fostering the role of intellectual capital as a source of competitive advantage for business organizations – human capital, customer capital, intellectual property, social capital.

On this basis we can seek the possibilities which new ICT secure in the field of co-operation between producers and consumers in transactions’ area. Internet contributes for the reduction of the transactional costs while intermediary serviceis secured by e-brokers (portals) or some operations are transferred to the consumer ( searching, transmission of information and opinions to others, use by consumers of information filtering agents, participation in creation of advertisings18) .

Secondly, new digital technologies allow individualizing product production (decreases cost price of small series or single items of the product) and thus producers start to look for ways to adapt their offers to the client’s individuality. Mass means of communication were needed for industrial production. Postindustrial production requires information about the demands of a single client, which is provided by the new ICT. The pull strategies are applied increasingly in production and distribution, which requires active interaction with customers.

Information integration efforts between manufacturers and customers, in the form of information sharing, syn-chronized replenishment, and collaborative product design and development, have been cited as major means of improving the supply chain performance (Kulp S, H. Lee and E. Ofek 2004). Improvement of the co-operation between producers and consumers can be searched in the field of the possibilities which new communication technologies secure for the consumers - not only to be better informed in making choices but to participate in the development or improvement of the product, to create and disseminate not only communicational messages, but to alter their meaning, to reject products and activities which are not in public interest.


1. Banet-Weiser S. and C. Lapsansky. RED is the new Black: Brand Culture, Consumer Citizenship and Political Possibility. International Journal of Communication 2, 2008, 1248-1268.

2. Beynon-Davies P. and R. Hill. Evaluating a digital divide index in a regional context. Journal of Systems and Information Technology. 2007, volume 9.

3. Bloor R. The Electronic B@zar: From the Silk to the End eRoad. N.Brealey Publ.Ltd, London, 2000.

4. Kotler Ph., C. Dirak and S. Maesincee. Marketing Moves. Harvard Business School Publ., 2003

5. Morgan R. Information technology: second-class citizen or strategy partner, Journal of Business Strategy, Volume 24, Number 6, 2003.

6. Susan Kulp S, H. Lee, E. Ofek. Manufacturer Benefits from Information Integration with Retail Customers. Management Science, Vol. 50, No. 4, Apr., 2004, p. 431-444.

7. Wright D. Book Review : Profiling the European Citizen: Cross-Disciplinary, 2008, Emerald Management Xtra.

8. /wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites

9. 2008 market trends,Our vision on major communication challenges, Mediaedge:cia, , Paris, 2008

10. www.nsi.bg

Proposal for a european joint master in consumer affairs “EMICA”

Victor Dordio

Évoraconta – Gabinete de Consultores de Gestão de Empresas, Lda., Évora, Portugal


This proposal for a Master course is the result of strong recommendations issued from the Consumer Citizenship Network (CCN), that recognized the necessity for higher education studies in consumer matters as described in the publication Consumer Citizenship Education – Guidelines (Vol. 1 Higher Education19,. Among the 123 institutions that belong to this Network, a significant number of them are expect to participate actively by several ways and this includes a great number of higher education institutions (HEI’s). This Master Course is intended to be a contribution to the citizen consumer’s education viewed as broader issue of Consumer Science, especially on the consumer protection and involvement by the consumer’s point of view, emphasizing the ethical and ecological aspects of consumerism.

The institutional and political framework of the European Joint Master in Consumer Citizenship (EMICA) lies on the content of successive declarations about the construction of the EHEA – European Higher Education Area and in the sprit that prevails from them, since the launch of the so called Bologna Process.

The main subject of EMICA studies is the Consumer Citizenship, a matter that is gaining importance in the fields of sustainable development and in the European construction, just to mention the most relevant. Consumer citizenship, like societies and business, is dynamic. It must continually evolve in such a manner as to accommodate and satisfy a variety of interests including government, business, society and industry, as well as students.

It is our intention to start the programme in September 2010, with most of the course being taught on-line. This is a very special time for us, as the Bologna Process completes 10 years since the signature of its Declaration and also because the year 2010 is the deadline foreseen to establish the EHEA – European Higher Education Area.

Sustainable development and consumer citizenship

To be able to achieve the balance between personal interests and social welfare is, at the end, to contribute to the generative foundations of the principles of sustainable development, a concept that is increasing its number of supporters among consumers.

CCN has adopted an “official” definition of consumer citizen which is as follows: “a consumer citizen is an individual who makes choices base on ethical, social, ethical and ecological considerations. The consumer citizen actively contributes to the maintenance of just and sustainable development by caring and acting responsibly on family, national and global levels”.20

On other hand, sustainable development requires always the concurrence of three main domains of civil society: the social, the environmental and the economic. The task is carried at a global scale and requires the involvement of international institutions. The United Nations, aware of this problematic, have declared back in 2005, the need for a “Decade for Education for Sustainable Development”,”.

Consumer citizenship education as proposed and, in some way, implemented by CCN trough its numerous partners, “is a way of supporting and contributing to the UN Decade and to process of transforming «sustainable development» from a concept into concrete behaviour”.21

In fact, we fully agree that “education for sustainable development is a life-wide and lifelong endeavour which challenges individuals, institutions and societies to view tomorrow as a day that belongs to all of us, or will not belong to anyone”.22 Our proposal for a European Joint Master in Consumer Citizenship, in the framework of CCN activities, bears in mind the institutional propose from the UN. It offers some disciplines dealing with the main issues that concern or is related with the sustainable development process, especially those related with environment and development aspects.

The next figure illustrates the development and independence of multiple sub domains of education, in particular,in the parallel education, which help to explain the urgency of taking into account different approaches of the education agents towards the citizen. The challenge in the education field is to connect all this different contexts to every day practices, in order to implement the life skill education.



Media education

Educação towards globalization

Financial education

Education for

sustainable development

Educação towards human rights

Citizenship education

Educação towards ICT

Education towards safety

Education towards road safety

Health education

Environmental education

Sexual education

Educação towards peace

The main question is how to empower the consumer as a stakeholder in a proactive perspective, especially when we know that everyone are consumers and behaves as a consumer, but not everyone is a citizen or is able to practice citizenship, fully understanding all the implications of his/her attitudes and consequences.So, in order to consider the consumer citizenship approach, it’s fundamental to discuss different ways of action, not only promoting the reaction to problems, but emphasizing the prevention in a proactive attitude, taking in consideration not only the individual needs but the needs from the community, in it’s multiple aspects: social, economical, environmental,…

Developing education for an active consumer citizenship

Consumer Citizenship Education must be able to provide the so-called life skill education in order to attribute tools that could habilitate the common citizen to understand the problems related to consumption and sustainable development in a critical perspective.

Developing active citizenship requires the exercise of dialogue and the civic participation in the democratic process and public activities of our modern and European societies. This may imply the belonging to a particular political community, but mainly and the equitable access to the social goods, like information. How can a consumer become an emancipated citizen? If teachers are readers of non-explicit curricula, what values should they teach? Is the consumer’s education the best way to follow?

Since 2003 the Consumer Citizenship Network ) is promoting the dialogue between researchers, educators and civil society as well as strengthens cooperation in relation to education, civic training and environmental concerns towards the development of consumer education.

Sustainable development is one of major CCN’s activities outcomes, very well expressed in the topics of its annual conferences: “using, choosing or creating the future?”, “taking responsibility” and “building bridges”. All of these expressions presume an active attitude and behaviour of consumers citizens in contributing for a sustainable development, i.e., for a better world for the coming generations.

The cultural diversity of European citizens reflected in different habits and patterns of consumption must be emphasized, studied, understood and promoted in a way that it will positively contribute to the European construction.

This concern is recognized widely and some recent press articles and academic studies emphasized the need for higher education courses in consumerism. We must refer, particularly, the study carried three years ago by the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA) and the Gesellschaft für Empirische Studien (GES) entitled “The need for Postgraduate Education in Consumer Affairs in the European Union”.

Based on the conclusions issued from this study, the DG SANCO of the European Commission launched a Call for Proposals for an “Integrated Master Degree Courses in Consumer Issues”. The members of Task Group #7, with the strong support of the Core Unit of the Consumer Citizenship Network, immediately felt the great chance of this Call for their purposes and started working in a realistic and affordable proposal for an EJM in this field of scientific knowledge. The content of our proposal is described in the following paragraph.

  • The so called “Bologna Process” and the “Lisbon Agenda” will provide the philosophical, instrumental guidelines and framework for the Master Course which main subject is the Integrated Consumer Affairs, taking the individual consumer and his/her life and choices as a central point of departure both at the micro and macro levels of economy. As a particular European point of view, the master course must focus on EU consumer policy, concept and practices of citizenship and recent concerns about sustainability.

The EMICA network seeks to identify partner regions with the scope of intensify the exchange of ideas and experiences with EHEIs and other stakeholder institutions in a well defined strategy to gain external support and dimension. This approach can be summarized as shown in the following graphics.

Proposal for a European Joint Master in Consumer Citizenship

The aim of the European Joint Master in Consumer Citizenship (EMICA), proposed by the Task Group #7 of the Consumer Citizenship Network (CCN2), can be expressed as: “to develop critical understanding of an integrated body of knowledge embracing consumer management and education, consumer advocacy, legal and governance issues in consumerism, rights and duties of consumers and producers.”

To achieve this goal, EMICA will contemplate four integral themes of study:

  1. the role of European citizens in a global world;

  2. models of sustainable consumption;

  3. cultural diversity and interdependence;

  4. social responsibility and citizenship.

From an institutional point of view, the EMICA will congregate a consortium of some23 European high education institutions whom will “supply” the essential of all teaching staff, integrated bybeing the other ones, “guest lecturers” from institutions outside of the consortium, including in this group specialists from the business and public administration sectors and also from consumer associations.

The following schema illustrates the expected relationship between the Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s)24 integrating the consortium, as well as the other institutions of the TG#7, including the associated partner University of Surrey (UK), the mobility of both teaching staff and students is shown through the flux arrows..

The duration of the proposed Master will be three semesters, where the first one – called General Module - will provide a generic knowledge and competences in consumer studies, and the next semester will provide specialized knowledge and skills to students enrolled in. This semester will propose two specialized modules, and the student must elect one of them: module A – Consumer Protection and Quality Management; module B – Consumer Involvement and Innovation. Finally, the third semester will be dedicated to an internship, to an applied project or to an academic research presented as a thesis.

Mobility, both of the teaching staff – arriving from all the HEI’s in the consortium – and the students will be a key factor of the EMICA. To guarantee the effectiveness of mobility a sound financing process will be implanted with the support of the scholarships granted by the EC and donations and/or banking credit on a preferential basis.

Every year, in April, the EMICA’s “Board of Representatives” should approve the Manifesto Studiorium that contains the course program of the following academic year. The Manifesto includes the list of available courses, their respective syllabuses, type of teaching and examination, didactic material and administrative information (admission criteria, inscription deadlines, fees, scholarships, …). The degree system, quality assurance and the recognition of degrees and periods of study should also be included in the Manifesto.

It will be possible to begin or end the programme of the CONCIT- EJM study at any of the participating higher education institutions.

Students who successfully study for the total of the established credits are awarded a Master’s degree with international legal recognition assured to the diploma, as established by the Diploma Supplement tool of the Lisbon Recognition Convention. The diplomas are likely to be delivered each academic year, at the official opening session of the annual CONCIT EJM, to the students that have completed the full programme of studies (courses + thesis) during the previous academic year.

According to the administrative and academic rules in each partner EHEI, a joint degree or a double degree will be delivered.

In the future website of the Master’s course (www.emica.aca.eu) all the information available about the programme, the European Higher Education Institutions (EHEIs) partners, the application form, contacts, etc., can be found.

In brief, there are some issues concerning EMICA that are still under discussion on TG#7, but the above ideas are already been set up and further developments must be achieved on the stage of the creation and implementation of EMICA.


During these two years and a half that we’ve been hardly working in TG#7 with the goal to set up a proposal for a Joint European Masters in Consumer Citizenship, as assigned by the CCN2 programme. The knowledge and experience of consumer citizenship education is very different from one partner to another, reflecting the stage of development of this scientific area of study in their universities, countries and even in their lives.

Enthusiastic participation however is a common feature of all members of TG#7 and at the end of our task we feel that we’ve achieved our goal. Now is time to deliver the proposal for EMICA to our institutions and hope that they will take good care of it.

We’re aware of the huge difficulties to implement such an ambitious project in the HEI’s of ours. Increasing attention required by sustainable development and the multiple initiatives currently running at different levels, with the United Nations leading the most important one. As stated in the document “Here and Now – Education for sustainable consumption” 25, we fully agree that “education for sustainable consumption is founded on the concept of sustainable consumption [consumer citizenship, upon CCN concept] which is based upon the principles of sustainable development”.

With the process of creation and implementation of EMICA we’re are not only progressing in curriculum development in our HEI’s by enlarging the scientific areas of study but also participating in two major goals of our societies of today: 1. the construction of a new Europe, specially in the field of the Higher Education Area and 2. the contribution for a sustainable development of our world.

An EPIC(A) adventure towards a consumer citizenship education: the birth of an Intensive Programme (Poster)

Alcina Dourado

Setúbal College of Education – Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal

Campus do IPS – Estefanilha, 2914-504 Setúbal - Portugal

Tel.: +351 265 710 800/12 Fax: +351 265 710 810 Email: adourado@ese.ips.pt

The aim of the EPICA26 Intensive Programme is to share the knowledge of the 5 High Education Institutions (HEI) European partners in the field of Consumer Citizenship Education in CCN towards sustainability, in a short period of time (two weeks), dealing with interdisciplinary matters that usually are not focused in school courses in a regular basis. This article deals with the developments of this Summer Programme which includes: programme design, curriculum development, teaching objectives, organization, envisaged outputs, among other items.

This is only possible with the contribution of the HEI partners involved and the CCN Task Group n#7 Coordinator.


Education for consumer citizenship, Intensive Programme

Critical Thinking and Active Learning

Tove Brita Eriksen

Associate Professor Tove Brita Eriksen

E-mail: tovebrita.eriksen@lui.hio.no

Oslo University College, Faculty of Education and International Studies


1.0 Introduction

In Norway as in all other countries of the world, we have political and educational discussions about perspectives and Challenges concerning environment, nature and climate. For several decades, the consumer society has made great profits producing and consuming more and very often to a low price. In many different ways, we have consumed and polluted the water, the air and the nature, and housing, food and cars are among the most polluted indicators of the world. Today, we discoverdaily negative effects of our modern lifestyle, and the last news (9.3.2009) from The University Research Center on Svalbard and New-Ålesund reports that there are more metan gas and CO2 in the atmosphere than ever. There is no doubt that we have to handle, but how?

The organization UNEP’s (United Nations Environment Programme) objective “is to guide and promote activities in favour of environmental protection by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and people to improve their quality of life withoutcompromising that of future generations.” (2008:2). On behalf of this background, we are today considering consumption and sustainable development as an important part of the globalization process in both good and bad ways.

The expression ‘sustainable development’ means an economic, environmental and social development in a society which meets individual’s consumption without disturbing the natural process in the nature. The expression ‘sustainable development’ was used of The Bruntland’s Commission in 1987. Since then politicians have paid attention to the globalization process and sustainable development as one of the most important political tasks of the world. An important question has to be, have the political agenda been successful?

As a partner of The Consumer Citizenship Network (CCN) it is a pleasure to write that CCN has always forwarded sustainable education as one of this organization’s main approaches. Through education, teachers have to try to learn and to influence on both home and school life and try to encourage parents and pupils to learn more about sustainable energy and how to live in pact with the origin, nature.

The positive effects of modern times and the globalization process in Norway depends on a high national gross income for years based on an extensive international trade system together with the extract of oil and gas in The North Sea. These treasures have brought money and a high life standard to the Norwegian people for years. The negative effects of a rich, western standard, is shortly explained in different ways as over-consumption and too much pollution. As a result of these negative trends in more countries than Norway, the globalization debate has concentrated on environment, nature and climate problems, but how is it possible to bring environmental quality to future generations? I believe this is a question of critical thinking and willingness among human beings and across social groups.


1.1 Political priorities

Norwegian politicians talk today about how to reduce the out-slip from cars, aircrafts, motorboats and from the industry, and our Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg has promised that Norway will discharge our duties from The Kyoto Declaration (1993/1997) on Sustainable Development. Norway has promised to be climate neutral in 2030, but will we fulfill this promise? Since 1990 the Norwegian CO2 contamination has increased with about 12 % according to The Kyoto declaration (Analys Norden 2009). How do we then manage to save the nature, the air and the water reservoir and be more free from the press of consumption and for many an unhealthy lifestyle?

It is also of great interest that The Kyoto Declaration recommended universities and higher education to make its own action plan and strive to:

  1. Make an institutional commitment to the principle and practice of sustainable development within academic milieu and to communicate to its students, its employees and to the public at large;

  2. Promote sustainable consumption practices in its own operations;

  3. Develop the capacities of its academic staff to each environmental literacy;

  4. Encourage among both staff and students an environmental perspective, whatever the field of study;

  5. Utilize the intellectual resources of the university to build strong environmental education programs;

  6. Encourage interdisciplinary and collaborative research programs related to sustainable development as part of the institution’s central mission and to overcome traditional barriers between discipline’s and departments;

  7. Emphasize the ethical obligations of the immediate university community – current students, faculty and staff – to understand and defeat the forces that lead to environmental degradation.

Here are seven out of 10 recommendations for universities and higher education institutions according to the Kyoto Declaration in 1993/1997 (Wikipedia). The Declaration on Sustainable Development has been continued on the Conference in Prague (2003) and latest on the Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. As a result of this, four international organizations founded a Global Alliance to promote higher education for sustainable development (GHESP) in response to Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 (International Association of Universities 1.3.2009)

The CC Network is one good example which fulfills the intentions from the Kyoto Declaration.

1.2 Environmental challenges

The February edition of Le Monde Diplomatique Miljøatlas (2009) describes the environmental challenges for people on the planet Earth. About 80 % of the CO2 environmentally pollution are related to car transports all over the world, while air transport claims 13 % and boats only 7 %. During the last 20 years the gross production of trade business of the world has increased with about 50 %. At the same time cargo transport has increased with 170 %. The following illustration shows the global trade business in a perspective of environmentally pollution:

Illustration 1: The global trade business and CO2 pollution of the world (Le Monde Diplomatique 2009:20)

The transport along roads is dependent of oil, and gas and oil are today the biggest reasons of environmentally pollution. It would be more environmentally friendly to use electric trains as means of communication, but according to Le Monde Diplomatique (2009), European countries tear down approximately 600 km train tracks yearly. What do we do in the future? Do we choose lambs from New Zealand, burgers from The United States and dresses from Paris, or do we buy lamb and chops from the local farmer and clothes produced in our own home country? These questions will surely promote new questions, and are not always among the most popular questions to ask.

Transport of goods and production are among the most difficult challenges we all have in a society. According to UNEP (2008) even production without destruction are non-problematic:

All consumer goods, even “green” ones, have negative repercussions on the environment. They are manufactured using raw materials, energy and water. Then they must be packaged and transported to their place of use, before finishing up as waste. Eco-design is a means of minimizing these impacts throughout a product’s lifecycle for the same degree of efficiency and utility.” (p:4)

1.3. The Nordic profile

In The Nordic countries we talk very often about the Nordic model of living. The Nordic model refers to the Nordic Ministry’s explanation of a common Nordic social model based on history, income, family-structure, welfare and similarity in climate and nature. Although, located up north, the Nordic countries have all the same environmentally challenges. None of the Nordic countries are more clever than the others to handle the existing pollution problems, but I can say for sure, that there are a growing enthusiasm for windmills, waterpower, electrical cars, eco-energy, ecological food and agriculture, and a strong will to purify the out-slip of CO2. In this way the Nordic countries try to meet global demands.

But what about health care in a perspective of sustainable development? We are all born for physical activity, and to walk does not pollute. If it is possible, it is good health care even to use the bike, the stairs and the local bus than to go with the private car. Responsible consumption is often synonymous with both environmentally savings and how to live a better life. This means that you have to choose a lifestyle that is the least detrimental to the environment (UNEP 2008).

2.0. Young Consumer in the North

Young Consumer in the North” is a three yearly real world project based on teenagers’ (age 16 – 19) participation. The project is conducted from Oslo University College and is based on experienced partners from Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Island, Tallinn and Riga. Based on the fact that individual does daily different choices which affect the quality of both life and the environment, we want to look for characteristic features for this age group. We want to discuss and compare the outcome and try to find out how it is to be a Young consumer in the North? What about the individual ‘footprint’? This project is a continuing project of the project “Physical activity, Health and Lifestyle” which is mentioned in my paper both from Sofia and Tallinn (Eriksen 2008, 2008).

The research method in “Young Consumer in the North” is based on quantitative methods. The project has to follow up both national and international intentions contributed for education, sustainable consumption and research in the Teacher Training Program and school.

2.1. The Ecological Footprint

Humans have for years destroyed the rainforest and the air, we have polluted the drinking water, the fish in the sea and made the nature unlivable for many different animals and plants. This is all a result of material growth and over-consumption. Our own ecological ‘footprint’ has modified the origin in a catastrophically way. The concept ‘ecological footprint’ was introduced in the 90’ies and is an explanation of how human activities and consumption regenerate natural sources on earth. The net based Wikipedia gives this explanation of ecological footprint:

The Ecological Footprint has emerged as the wold’s premier measure of humanity’s demand on nature. It measures how much land and water area a human population requires to produce the resource it consumes and to absorb its’ wastes, using prevailing technology.” (Wikipedia: Global Footprint Network)

The organization The Ecological Footprint Network says that humanity today uses the equivalent of 1,3 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means that it takes the Earth one year and four months to regenerate what you and I use in a year. The United Nations says that if our consumption trend will continue, we need the equivalent of two Earths’ to support us in 2030s.

The ecological footprint will then be a phenomenon regarding to:

  • Footprints for nations

  • Footprints for cities

  • Footprints for Business

  • Carbon footprints

  • Science footprints

  • Personal footprints

(From: Global Footprint Network)

Based on these facts education has a long way to go to try to teach the next generation about consumption and personal lifestyle priorities and guide them for a more eco-green or ecological way of environmental living.

Eco’ means the use of more natural and renewable resources as plant origin, fresh and clean air and raw materials. They have all to be biological.

The teaching of personal footprints can in many ways be a project for both young and older pupils. We have to start with ourselves for to fit our planet today and for the coming future.

2.2 Critical thinking and consequence learning

Teaching and learning is the main program for all kind of schools. Although we know that the primary and lower secondary schools have today a distinct focus on Pisa tests, national tests and The Teacher Training Program. It is then very easy to overrule and not emphasize the importance of teaching in cross curriculum themes like critical thinking and sustainable development through a method of personalized and consequence learning.

Pollard et.al (2008) talk about both reflective teaching and consequence learning among school children. He says that this kind of teaching is to support professional engagement in a holistic way of learning.

Personalized and active learning means taking a more structured and responsive approach to each child’s learning, so that all pupils are able to progress, achieve and participate. This will be evident in high quality, challenging teaching that engages pupils and helps them to take ownership of their learning.” (p:11)

Critical thinking is a didactical way of personalization in teaching. It is seen as a way of promoting inclusion and better curriculum and social understanding among young children. Knowledge based skills including knowing how to reflect, knowing how to do, knowing how to act and knowing how to evaluate and take responsibility for, has contributed to pedagogic drivers of personalized and active learning methods (ibid.).

Figure 2: Reflective Teaching and taking ownership of learning (DfES, 2006c. In: Pollard et. al 2008:12)

Reflective teaching and active learning is based on both individual and class dialogue and acting both inside and outside the classroom. A usual way to go through a consequent and personalized teaching can be, to follow up these different stages of consideration in class through investigating expositions like:

  1. Who we are?

  2. Where we are in place and time?

  3. How do we share our planet earth?

  4. How do we live?

  5. How do we organize ourselves?

It is important to teach pupils to be thinkers, communicators, open-minded, make inquirers, caring takers and to follow the nature of biological principles. Reflective teaching can be followed up by different projects like:

  1. To identify different phenomena of pollution and the ecological footprint.

  2. To consider the different phenomena of pollution and the personal footprint through indoor and outdoor activities.

  3. Take the quiz on Personal footprint’s home page: /en/index.php/GFN/page/personal_footprint/

  4. To read about pollution in newspapers, in books or on the web. To look at selected DVDs, videos etc. What is sustainable consumption and what about the future?

  5. What is an ecological or eco-green lifestyle?

  6. How does the Personal Footprint calculator work?

  7. Interview parents and other family persons about their lifestyle, driving, food and housing.

  8. How does pollution impact on environment (the nature, the drinking water and the air)?

  9. Is it possible today to raise an eco-green baby?

  10. A visit to the nearest forest or plantation. Questioning the farmer about eco-agriculture.

  11. Make wallpapers and group plays in the classroom.

  12. To follow up individual needs through discussions and questioning is useful in school. To get attention and motivate individuals through focus on own family and own life. What do we need? What do I need, and why do I buy this or that? Can I live without it? From where and how was it made?

  13. How often do we use our car, and is it possible to use less electricity?

  14. What is a windmill, and how do we have sea-power?

  15. What do I eat, and from where come my food? What about pollution and my own health concern?

  16. How often do I walk to school? Why is it so important to walk or use the bike every day?

12. How is it possible to recycle bottles, boxes, carrier bags and other packaging?

13. Is it possible to recycle own clothes and other components?

14. Write a story about: How do I live in 2030?

Mostly all of these given tasks (1-14) are based on teacher’s inquiring and discussions with pupils in the class. To guide and learn critical thinking is more important today than ever. Critical thinking will, over age, probably be a tool to encourage individuals for better understanding and a more conscious lifestyle.

2.3 Education, health and environmental learning

A person’s ecological footprint includes both personal choices and societies’ impact. The footprint is today associated with personal lifestyle as choose of food, chemical use in food and farming, smoking, physical mobility and different social services. According to The World Health Organization (WHO) about 13 millions of people are dying every year because of environmentally pollution. This means every fourth of the diseases in the world are caused of environmentally problems.

Illustration 2: The 10 biggest environmentally caused diseases in the world (t/quantifying_ehimpacts/publications/preventingdisease/en.print.html)

Many young and older people become also allergic or have asthmatic health problems as a result of air pollution. This is specially a problem in cities with heavy traffic.

There is little doubt today that about 40 % of the western population eat too much, walk too little and use the car too often. If we compare this daily misuse to national consumption indicators as food, transport and society, there are clear indications that personal over-consumption affect health and the personal ecological footprint. In this chapter I present some Norwegian school projects with a focus on teaching about lifestyle, health and environmental learning.

A: Use your bike and let the car stay in the garage

In Norway it is quite usual that parents drive their children to and fro school or the kindergarten by car every day during the year. Among pedagogical persons we have often called this family generation for the turbo-generation with a glance to a huge family-program and in high speed from school activities to work > to baby swimming > to music school > to different sport arrangements and so on. The expression ’turbo’ comes from the word turbine or a very quick and useful motor.

We have also discussed among sport teachers that too many arranged after school activities have taken the possibility for the free play of children away as an after school activity in the neighborhood. The modern generation parents are scheduling, and they are too clever to use the car in spite of short walking distances.

B: Young and green

Haneberg and Bugge (2008) have written a parent’s guide about how to live and how to raise a child in a more green way of living. The authors focus on how it is possible to avoid health- and environmentally degenerating substances with a focus on food, clothes, creams and diapers made of fabrics or paper. The idea about young and green can also be a starting-point for an eco-project for small children in both kindergarten and in school. Both children and parents have to learn consequence thinking about how to repair toys instead of buying new ones, and how to make new clothes out of old ones? How is it possible to raise physically active children walking to school or shopping markets instead of using cars? What about the idea of being a green kindergarten or a green school or to become a light-house for green education? There are a lot of challenges for human on every stage in life.

C: The hybrid cell phone

Young people are today occupied of all kind of electronic equipments. The presentation for 9 -10 years old boys and girls on the new Eco-green Center on the Southern part of Norway became a success. Everybody understood that batteries degenerate the nature, and they wanted to try and use this new kind of sun cell mobile also called a hybrid cell phone. The new hybrid cell phone is constructed of the Japanese company named NTT DoCoMo.

The use of technological museums and eco centers in education motivate children for new thinking and trying out early in life.

D: How do we construct a water-mill or use the new “pellets”-heater?

Children are always enthusiastic when you learn them to construct a water-mill and have your own power-station. The fascination of power and how to have electricity out of a simple construction is fascinating. Some lessons outdoor give pupils quit a lot to talk about through discussions, evaluations and active learning constructing a water- mill in the nearest river.

One of the latest ideas for heating houses in Norway, is a pellets-heater, but how is this heater constructed and why? Have you ever seen a pellets-heater? Where do we buy one?

E: How do we recycle?

How does the local school recycle? How do the homes and the local society recycle? Talk about recycling, visit recycling places, and learn the pupils to recycling garbage and have new soil the next year.

F: Make a green store at school

Green stores are also known as earth friendly stores or eco stores. Why not make a local green store at school? The children will then be occupied with green thinking, green producing and green consumption. To cook without chemical ingredients, is nice to learn for everybody.

It is also nice to sell footballs made of green materials.

G: How do we save the nature, and how is it possible to be a part of a local climate panel?

It is a fact that 16 119 plants and animals were threatened by extermination as announced at the political meeting in Johannesburg in 2002. Probably, is the number much higher today because only 3 % of the total 1,9 million species had been estimated in 2002. The extermination is caused because of human activities, and the different ecological systems are dramatically threatened. During the political meeting in Johannesburg, the politicians announced that the world should have reduced the extermination in a wide scale within 2010. It is only 600 days left when I am writing this paper.

To save the nature should be a pilot project for many schools, but how do they handle? One way to go is to make the pupils’ own local climate panel on school. Children’ fascination of nature is great, and they are eagerly working for projects like this. Direct the project to the local press and the Foreign Nation’s Year of multiplebiology in 2010. This will then be a good reason for all pupils in school to concentrate on nature, climate and environmental studies towards a naturally healthy earth friendly living.

3.0 Summary

In this paper I have tried to focus on selected results from political meetings, research on nature and consumer information with an eye on education. There are no doubt today, that we all have to handle towards a more sustainable society and have The Kyoto declaration clear in mind towards 2030. The modern society gives us all different experiences, and daily individuals make different choices which affect the quality of life as well as the environment.

Educating young boys and girls is one of the most important works to do, and schooling have a big challenge to educate the next generation to be more earth friendly than the older generations have ever been.

Teaching and learning have to be clear and connect human choices to the real world problems about factors as climate, nature, production, lifestyle and health.

We have polluted the Earth for years, and medical experts talk today about new types of bacterial immunity as a result of consumption and air pollution.

It is not difficult to conclude that the growing consumption and the disturbance of nature is a copy of how human have lived. The spirit of consumption has invaded the human mind, and it has been the right moment for years to change the spirit for a more healthy society.

There are many different approaches to go to teach pupils about sustainability through critical thinking and active learning and not to pollute young minds.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi


Eriksen, T.B. (2006): Født til bevegelse, om fysisk aktivitet og helse. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget.

Eriksen, T.B. (2008): Healthy Schools, Healthy Pupils. I: Building bridges. The Consumer network Conference Proceedings, Sofia 2007.

Eriksen, T.B. (2008): How can Consumer Citizenship Education deal with cognitive, emotional, social and economic influences on consumers’ capacity with a glance on health information and decision making in school? Consumer Citizenship network Conference; Tallinn 5.5.2008.

Haneberg, B. , N. Bugge (2008): Økobaby. Oslo: Noras Ark.

Le Monde Doplomatique (2009): Miljøatlas analyser og løsninger. Norsk utgave februar 2009.

Pollard, A., J. Andersson, M. Maddock, S. Swaffield, P. Warwick (2008): Reflective Teaching. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. Third edition.

Thoresen, V.W., A. Klein (2008): Assessinginformation as Consumer Citizens. Consumer Citizenships: Promoting New Responses. Vol.4

United Nations Environment Programme (2008): Resource Kit on SustainableConsumption and Production. Paris: UNEP, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics.

www.norden.org/webb/news (2009): Analysnorden. Innovation og forskning i Norden. Nordisk Ministerråd. Nordisk Råd. 26.2.2009

www.wikipedia. (2009)


CSR-Mainstreaming and its Influence to Consumer Citizenship

Vera Fricke and Ulf Schrader

Dipl.-Geogr. Vera Fricke is junior researcher and lecturer at the Institute for Vocational Education and Work Studies at the Technical University Berlin, Germany. Her main areas of research are corporate social responsibility, sustainable consumption and voluntary social and ecological standards.

Prof. Dr. Ulf Schrader is professor for economic education and sustainable consumption at the Institute for Vocational Education and Work Studies at the Technical University Berlin, Germany. His main research and teaching interests are sustainable consumption, corporate social responsibility, consumer policy, and services marketing.

Corresponding Author:

Dipl. Geogr. Vera Fricke

Technische Universität Berlin

Fachgebiet Arbeitslehre Wirtschaft/Haushalt

Franklinstr. 28/29

10587 Berlin


Tel. +49-30-314 28770




CSR has become mainstream. No matter if stated in company brochures or business press: nationally and internationally acting companies avow themselves to CSR. By now the acronym is frequently used self-evidently omitting further explanation. The spreading of the notion is surprising, taking into account that CSR is actually quite demanding. The European understanding of CSR is based on the definition of the European Commission (EC 2005) as a voluntary commitment of companies complying with standards which exceed the mandatory regulations. The aim is to balance the three pillars of sustainability through integrating social and ecological aspects along the entire value chain integrating corporate responsibility into the core business of companies (CSRI 2008). This transfer of responsibility is ideally developed in collaboration with the respective stakeholder and communicated and implemented transparently. Many nationally and internationally well known associations like the Wold Business Council for Sustainable Development or BAUM e.V. and econsense in Germany strive for this commitment. At the same time a growing number of smaller and larger companies commit themselves to CSR.

This recent development has influence on private consumption. Products and services with added CSR value which were formerly only available in niche segments and companies that claim to act socially and ecologically sound can increasingly be found in the mass market. E.g. organic products are presented in supermarkets and discount shops offer their own fair trade product line.

This proliferation is described here as CSR mainstreaming – a process that accumulates activities of companies and their stakeholders to implement sustainability and products with added CSR value to mainstream markets27. Hence, CSR mainstreaming enables mainstream consumers to participate in sustainable consumption. Sustainable consumption has entered the mainstream and is there to stay (Smith 2008). In the following we will discuss the ways leading to CSR mainstreaming and the resulting risks and opportunities for sustainable consumption and consumer citizenship (CCN 2005).

CSR mainstreaming: Two ways towards a sustainable mass market

Generally, the road toward a sustainable mass market is twofold: arising from sustainable “Davids” as well as from conventional “Goliaths” (Wüstenhagen et al. 2001) (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Two Directions of CSR mainstreaming

Source: Following Wüstenhagen et al. 2001

The first direction (CSR mainstreaming I) describes the development of socially and ecologically responsible niche market providers that have grown and spread their market share until becoming relevant providers in the mass market (sustainable “Goliaths”). A best practice example for this type is e.g. the German organic food provider Alnatura. The company sells its products via mass distribution in cooperation with the German dm-drugstore chain, tegut supermarkets as well as an own supermarket chain for organic food. Also active within the food sector is TransFair e.V., the Association for Supporting Fair Trade within the “Third World”. TransFair can claim binary growth-rates within the last years. Its label for fair trade products is meanwhile available in nearly all German supermarket chains and spread widely across Europe. Other examples can be found in the sector of primary energy. German companies like ENERCON or REpower as producers of wind energy plants or solar companies like Solar World AG or Q-Cells SE are participating successfully at the growing demand of renewable energies and thus could spread their global market share overcoming the status as a niche market provider. The same road of CSR mainstreaming is also used by suppliers of “green” energy that have widened their former niche customer segment due to cooperation with mass market provider (e.g. cooperation between LichtBlick and Postbank as well as with the tabloid newspaper Bild-Zeitung or the cooperation between Naturstrom AG and various conventional public energy suppliers).

The second road (CSR mainstreaming II) is taken by economically successful mass market providers that have developed from conventional to – relatively – sustainable Goliaths. This trend is prevailing in the public discussion on CSR. Nearly all corporations avow themselves to CSR on their internet presence. To what extend the statements are primarily ”rhetoric“ or relevant ”reality“ needs to be identified individually (Barth et al. 2007). Among the companies that have exposed themselves in a responsible manner is for example the German distance seller Otto. Its´ suppliers are audited with special ecological and social criteria. In their catalogues as well as in the internet a small assortment of products made out of organic cotton can be found. Furthermore, Otto is engaged in industry wide responsibility activities e.b. by co-initiating the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI). In the coffee sector conventional corporations have also co-organized an association that seeks to implement sustainability along the entire coffee chain. The so called Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C) was developed jointly between coffee traders and roasters (e.g. Neumann Group, Sara Lee and Tchibo), the civil society (e.g. Oxfam) and governmental institutions. In the energy sector market dominating corporations also take up CSR as an important topic. Through vast investments in solar energy the energy company BP can claim to be the world´s largest solar energy producer. At the same time this engagement was internationally announced through the communication campaign that puts the future business “Beyond Petroleum” as slogan in front. Others like the German company RWE communicate through the slogan “vo-RWE-g gehen” (going ahead) to the public that they consider themselves as a role model in climate protection.

The described proliferation of CSR in the mass market does not stay without affects for sustainable consumption and thus consumer citizenship. Opportunities as well as risks arise.

Opportunities of CSR mainstreaming for sustainable consumption and consumer citizenship

CSR mainstreaming can facilitate sustainable consumption especially when corporate responsibility in the mass market has real impact on the product range, price arrangements and/or distribution patterns rather than placed as mere communication. Sustainable systems of benefits in the mass market imply an expanded product range and thus consumers have the opportunity to purchase products with an added social and ecological value which meet their expectations. When produced at higher quantities, the manufacturing costs decline und thus the consumer price. Hence, monetary and non-monetary transaction costs for products and services with added CSR value decrease for consumers in the mass market. Furthermore, customers will save time for information and distances as well as psychological energy for adjustments when organic and fair trade products are not solely offered in unfamiliar organic stores but are available in the known supermarket around the corner. A wider, more attractive range of choice enables “an individual [to make] choices based on ethical, social, economic and ecological considerations” (CCN 2005, p. 7), i.e. to act as a consumer citizen on the basis of improved consumer rights (Schrader 2007). In this respect CSR mainstreaming activates a CSR push towards spreading sustainable consumption and consumer citizenship (see figure 2).

Figure 2: Positive feedback between CSR mainstreaming and sustainable consumption & consumer citizenship

Moreover, CSR mainstreaming has not only the potential to facilitate consumption of previous consumer citizens. It also stimulates the diffusion of consumer citizenship to new parts of the population. The target-group that can be well addressed through CSR mainstreaming is internationally known as cultural creatives (Ray/Anderson 2000) or LOHAS (“Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability”) (e.g. Ax/Wohlers 2008). Whereas consumers of products with social and ecological added value were hitherto a marginal group, the recent trend coming up with key words like LOHAS and CSR has created a broad publicity locating sustainable consumption in mainstream markets. Societal topics like climate change, the decline in resources or human rights which dominate the global agenda are increasingly connected to the mass market consumers’ daily life (Hira/Ferrie 2006). Thereby, taking responsibility is not seen as antipode to lust for life and quality of life. Hence, sustainable consumption gains a new image, an improved public attention and is thus generally strengthened.

Certainly, the effect of CSR mainstreaming on sustainable consumption is not a one-way street as sustainable consumption stimulates a sustainability pull towards a further strengthening of CSR mainstreaming. Consequently, this feedback loop of supply and demand, typical in market economies, can function as a self-energizing process towards sustainability. It becomes easier to act responsibly and use consumption as a new way of democracy (CCN 2005).

Next to the illustrated opportunities, mainstreaming of CSR holds risks for sustainable consumption and hence for the common goal of sustainable development (see figure 3).

Figure 3: Possible effects of CSR mainstreaming on Sustainable Consumption and Consumer Citizenship

Risks of CSR mainstreaming for sustainable consumption and consumer citizenship

The social and ecological added value of products and services is not necessarily visible on the good itself. To create trust in producers and their products consumers are bound to transparency meaning information about the production process and the activities of the company. In niche markets, transparency, trust and credibility are often created through a close relationship between producers, traders and consumers. In contrast, the mass market compensates its higher anonymity through increased mass communication. Although distribution of information is key element of CSR (Schrader et al. 2008), this looms to create a growing in-transparency. The flood of company-owned and independent organic- and social-labels and standards are leading to a ubiquity of so called “sustainable” products. The consumer`s valuation which standards suits one’s own needs and criteria often requires additional information or previous knowledge. The amount and quality of information addressed to the consumer is intractable leading to information-overload and consumer confusion (Langer et al. 2008). Finally, this can undermine the credibility of individual standards and labels as well as the trust in producers and their products. This might lead to a lost in trust and acceptance of sustainable products. In the end it might reinforce former consumption patterns.

If consumers are not able to differentiate between the various CSR activities and act accordingly it might lead to a dilution of sustainability standards. For example TransFair, Rainforest Alliance and the 4C Association all claim to bring sustainability into the coffee sector whereas the respective sustainability criteria they comply to vary enormously. If these differences are not describes transparently and clearly for example in the „Sustainable Shopping Basket”, the shopping guide published by the German Council for Sustainability (Rat für Nachhaltige Entwicklung 2008) or in educational material, awarded by the UN-decade “Education for Sustainable Development” (Kraft Foods Deutschland 2007), presumably mainstream consumers will not be aware of the differences in the sustainability engagement and will purchase accordingly. Consequently, the incentive for the mass market declines to hold up the usually cost intensive standards which are established in the niche markets. Looking at the example BP, it shows how instead CSR communication activities are promoted disproportionately in relation to the actual CSR activities respectively the remaining not-sustainable core business (Vogel 2006). Critics call these cases “greenwashing”.

A further risk lies in the moral relief that is created when consuming socially sound and environmentally friendly products and services. When consumers feel convinced that they contribute to saving the world through their consumer behavior with CSR mainstreaming their disposition to questions the own consumption quantity and reflect on the personal actual needs will decline drastically. If strawberries can be bought at Christmas time “organic” and “fair”, the transport costs and energy expenses of the needed greenhouses fall behind. If corporations like BP or RWE commit to climate protection energy consumption might only be a question of the thickness of the purse – especially when the domestic illumination is realized with renewables. And what is the moral problem of buying a cheap flight when a certificate of carbon compensation is sold simultaneously like selling of indulgences? In total there is the threat that CSR mainstreaming stimulates consumption- and lifestyle patterns that are unsustainable on a global scale reducing the willingness to question the necessity of consumption activities and undermining consumer citizenship.

CSR mainstreaming: Blessing or curse for sustainable consumption and consumer citizenship?

In summary one can state that CSR is of growing importance in the mass market due to CSR mainstreaming which develops twofold: through growing companies leaving the niche market and the rising importance of CSR within corporations of the mass market.

Looking at sustainable consumption CSR mainstreaming leads to opportunities and risks. On the one hand side new target groups are made accessible and a self-accelerating sustainable development is possible. On the other side the fear of diluting the mission statement “sustainable consumption” is evident. The use or contra-productivity of CSR mainstreaming for sustainable consumption is bound to the respective framework conditions.

Those framework conditions are strongly guided by consumer policy. With different tools consumer policy can ensure that consumers are critical, enlightened and able to remunerate serious CSR activities and unmask “greenwashing” activities. That way, adequate consumer information creates transparency about real CSR activities of companies and assists to differentiate between credible and non-credible CSR communication. One step towards better CSR information is provided since 2004 with the – sporadically conducted – CSR tests of the German Stiftung Warentest28 (Schoenheit/Hansen 2004).

A stronger focus on consumer education at schools and universities would stimulate the ability to reflect needs and help judging the credibility of standards and labels as well as on background information and the impact of the various CSR activities. The UN-decade “Education for Sustainable Development” could help to create awareness for sustainable consumption patterns within different stakeholder groups involved directly and indirectly into the production processes. That way the strongly linked activities of sustainable production and consumption are strengthened mutually and contribute to the spreading of consumer citizenship.

Furthermore, within their representative mandate consumer organizations can be involved closer into stakeholder dialogues for a more severe integration of CSR within companies´ core business. Partly those consumer policy tools are already implemented but are underrepresented with respect to the CSR-(communication)-activities led by companies.

CSR mainstreaming can only unfold its full potential to stimulate and strengthen sustainable consumption, a sustainable economy and contribute to consumer citizenship if CSR is not seen as a business topic only. CSR oriented awareness and activities of all stakeholder groups including consumer policy actors would contribute to sustainable development – and to the success of companies which take CSR seriously.


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Transdisciplinary Consumer Citizenship Education

Sue L.T. Mc Gregor

Sue L.T. McGregor PhD Professor

Director Graduate Education Mount Saint Vincent University, Nova Scotia, Canada

sue.mcgregor@msvu.ca and

Consumer citizenship education is gaining great currency as an idea and a full-fledged

practice, especially in Europe, thanks to the perseverance and intellectual energy of the

Consumer Citizenship Network. Consumer citizenship education (CCE) is a marked departure

from traditional consumer education. The latter is concerned with the relationship between the

consumer and the business/industry sector with the government sector acting as a mediator and

protector. The former conceives people as citizens first and consumers second, bringing justice,

equality, peace and other notions of humanity into the equation. Conventional consumer

education tends to draw heavily on one discipline, economics, as well as the disciplines of

political studies, psychology, history and sociology (cultural and group orientations to

consumption) (McGregor, 2009b). Consumer citizenship education, simply by the addition of the

word citizen, necessitates a different approach. Educators need to move beyond mono- and multidisciplinary

approaches to designing curricula and attendant pedagogy. They even need to move

beyond interdisciplinary approaches, wherein two or more disciplines temporarily work together,

or educators appreciate the merit of turning to several disciplines to find synergy of ideas. The

premise of this paper is that, in order to respect the citizen aspect of consumer citizenship

education, educators and policy makers need to turn to transdisciplinary inquiry.

Trans means zigzagging back and forth, moving across, going beyond, the blurring of,

and pushing past, existing boundaries. In the context of consumer citizenship education, it

represents a deep respect for the interface between ideas coming from academic disciplines and

where they meet with the people who are actually experiencing and living the problems the

academy strives to address in its isolation. Horlick-Jones and Sime (2004) coined the phrase

border-work to refer to the intellectual work that occurs when people living on the borders of the

academy (university disciplines) and civil society engage in complex problem solving. A fellow

CCN colleague agrees, noting that transdisciplinarity involves an academy-society interface,

wherein, through a lengthy and complex process, academe knowledge and action-relevant

knowledge are integrated (Liokumovièa, 2008).

To date, four CCN network participants have been drawn to the idea of bringing

transdisciplinarity (TD) to consumer citizenship education (CCE), as evidenced by papers

presented at this conference venue. First, McGregor (2005) broached the topic in a keynote

address (Bratislava, Slovakia), explaining that conceiving our work through this lens offers a new

form of learning, inquiry and problem posing that involves cooperation among different parts of

society in order to meet complex challenges of a global society. Second, Thoresen (2008)

asserted that education for consumer citizenship demands transdisciplinary teaching, but this is

not described. Third, at the Sofia, Bulgaria CCN conference, Pålshaugen (2008) was interested in

transdisciplinary cooperation, and not education per se. She was intrigued with using

transdisciplinary dialogue as a way to deal with the issue of sustainability, anticipating that this

approach would facilitate mutual learning and problem solving via cooperation among different

parts of society (including academia).

Fourth, Liokumovièa (2008) explained that her paper was about providing insight into the

theoretical background of CCE in light of inter- and transdisciplinary approaches (she

hyphenates these words). However, although she briefly made a very clear distinction between

the two approaches, she continued to use the hyphenated term, and did not specifically address

transdisciplinarity. Like Pålshaugen (2008), she focused on transdisciplinary cooperation,

recognizing, as a key challenge, the lack of a common methodology, which is separate from the

research methods of particular disciplines.

This paper will use Thoresen’s (2008) call for transdisciplinary teaching and

Liokumovièa’s (2008) line of thinking (academe-society interface) as its jumping off point,

beginning with clarifying two points. First, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity are two

totally different approaches to global problems, and hyphenating them together indicates a

natural stage of progression from one worldview to another. As Liokumovièa so aptly noted,

interdisciplinary study implies a disciplinary interface, and is confined to removing the

boundaries between disciplines within the academy (see McGregor, 2007). Transdisciplinarity

moves way beyond this, involving an academy-society interface, wherein, through a lengthy and

complex process, academe knowledge and action-relevant knowledge are integrated

(Liokumovièa). Not only are the walls taken down between the disciplines within higher

education, but the walls are taken down between higher education and the rest of the world. The

intent is to enable new types of knowledge to emerge through complex and integrated, mutually

learned insights. This embodied knowledge is created in the spaces between the disciplines and

society (rather than in separately walled, disciplinary knowledge silos) (McGregor).

The second fundamental distinction is the sharp difference between methodology and

methods, terms that should not be used interchangeably (per Liokumovièa, 2008). Methodology

is a term used to refer to four factors (axioms) that distinguish one research paradigm from

another: (a) what counts as knowledge and how we come to know it (epistemology); (b) what

counts as reality, feeling, existence or being (ontology); (c) what is acceptable as rigour and

inference (logic); and (d) what counts as fundamental values and what is consciousness (moral

choices, ethics, and normative judgements) (axiology). Once someone decides on a specific

methodology (the three most common being positivistic, interpretive/narrative and critical), one

can consciously choose particular methods of sampling, data collection, analysis and sharing of

results, and particular pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning. As a point of interest,

McGregor (2007, 2008) asserted that consumer studies definitely aligns itself with the positivistic

(empirical) methodology, with recent movement towards a critical methodology via consumer

citizenship scholarship and education.

Bringing the TD methodology to consumer citizenship education is a new initiative,

almost as new as the methodology itself, which includes four axioms: complexity and emergence

(knowledge), multiple levels of reality, the logic of the included middle, and integral value

constellations. The remainder of the paper focuses on what consumer citizenship education might

look like through a transdisciplinary methodology, drawing heavily from McGregor (2009a,b).

The ideas in this paper serve to scaffold future conversations about the possible nature of

pedagogical CCE innovations. The contents of the paper should enable CCN participants to

expand on Thoresen’s (2005) CCE interdisciplinary guidelines. CCE can become a

transdisciplinary pursuit employing the four-axiom TD methodology.

Four Axioms of Transdisciplinary Methodology

Consumer citizenship educators need transdisciplinary knowledge if they intend to

educate people to solve the problems of humanity, problems that are exacerbated by

unsustainable, unethical, even immoral, consumption. Transdisciplinary knowledge is created via

a new methodology: (a) multiple levels of reality and attendant levels of perceptions, (b) the

logic of the included middle, and (c) knowledge as complexity and emergence (Nicolescu, 1985,

2002, 2005b; 2006a,b; 2007). Cicovacki (2003, 2004) recommends a fourth axiom for a TD

methodology, that of values (axiology) (see Figure 1).

Axiom 1 - Ontology: Multiple Levels of Reality

Conventional consumer education is predicated on the positivistic and empirical notions

of fragmentation, separation, dualities (this or that), and universal laws that apply to everything

and everyone (no concern for context). From this perspective, scholars and educators assume that

our picture of reality (e.g., consumption) is incomplete and made up of many separate parts and

that they can conduct experiments about this reality, eventually building up a more complete

picture. To do this, they design taxonomies, categories and hierarchies, the most famous one in

consumer education being Bannister and Monsma’s (1982) classification system for consumer

education concepts. This is not a bad approach to consumer education. It is just not the approach

that would be used within a TD methodology.

Rather than assuming that we can best understand consumer education as comprising one

level of reality (static, rationale, objective, generic, with mind, body and soul disconnected and

Figure 1

separate), a TD methodology assumes there are multiple layers of reality that interact with each

other. Consumer citizenship educators would respect the dynamic, complex relationships

between (a) the political, social, historical and individual levels (called TD subject, the internal

world of humans) and (b) the environmental, economic and individual and planetary/cosmic

levels (called TD Object, the external world). The internal TD subject involves a flow of

consciousness across different levels of perception of the world. The external TD object involves

the flow of information across different levels of reality. Moments of breakthrough happen, aha

moments, when consciousness meets information and they share, what TD theory calls, the zone

of non-resistance. TD methodology employs the concept of The Hidden Third to refer to the

place where people’s experiences, interpretations, descriptions, representations, images, and

formulas meet. (c) Three levels of reality exist in this zone: culture, religion, and intuition and

spirituality (see Figure 2).

For consumer citizenship educators, this means a deep shift from focusing on

taxonomies, lists, individual theories, definitions and the like to the processes and energy flows

inherent in deep, complex interactions among people’s internal world, their external world and

the mediating factors of culture, art, religion and spirituality. CCN is deeply involved with

integrating consumer education into education for sustainability, which is predicated on four

pillars: economic, social, cultural, environmental (Clugston, 2004; McGregor, 2009c; UNESCO,

2005). It seems like a natural transition for educators to turn to this particular axiom of TD - an

ontology of multiple levels of interactive layers of reality replete with levels of perceptions and

flows of information and consciousness among these layers of reality. The result is a unity of

realities, a unity that better reflects the complexity of human issues influenced by our


Axiom 2 - Logic: The Included Middle

The logic axiom is concerned with the habits of the mind that are acceptable for inference

and reasoning. Conventional consumer education is predicated on the logic of exclusion, lived

out in our pedagogy as: deduction (cause and effect), linear thinking, reductionism (breaking

Figure 2

things down into parts to understand the whole from which they came), and either/or approaches

with no room for contradictions. Scholars strive for a complete theory of consumer education, a

favorite pastime of people embracing this logic. Newtonian logic (Isaac Newton was a classical

physicist) assumes that the space between objects is empty, flat, static and void of life. Consumer

educators often hear the sayings, “That student fell through the cracks” and “People need a

financial safety net in bad times so they do not fall into the depths of financial ruin.” Perceiving

this space as empty and void means consumer educators do not have to pay any attention to it - it

is not part of reality.

On the other hand, a TD methodology embraces the Logic of the Included Middle. This

inclusive logic enables people to imagine that the space between things (especially between

academic disciplines, in the academy (university system) and civil society) is alive, dynamic, in

flux, moving and perpetually changing. It is in this fertile middle space that transdisciplinary

manifests itself. Whereas interdisciplinarity builds bridges between disciplines so ideas can cross

back and forth across borders (assuming that a bridge is needed to cross the deep chasm between

siloed fields of study), transdisciplinarity has people stepping through the

zones of non-resistance (the Hidden Third) onto the fertile, moving floor of

the included middle, where they generate new transdisciplinary intelligence

and knowledge, together (see Figure 2).

A useful metaphor for this idea is the lava-lamp (see Figure 3). As a

soft light source, it is see-through container in which one watches the slow,

chaotic rise and fall of randomly shaped balls of wax. The ever-changing

patterns are invigorating, progressive and in perpetual motion. Classical

Aristotelian logic (reality as dualities) says there is no middle ground. In

practice, this means that there are many instances when people from

different disciplines or in civil society cannot talk to each other; hence,

there can be no integration or generation of new knowledge (MacCleave,

2006). The Logic of the Included Middle holds that there is middle ground

if people accept that different actors have different perceptions of things.

Finding new knowledge in the fertile middle ground is possible when

everyone’s ideas are heard. For each person, his or her point of view is his

or her truth until it encounters something else, the ideas from another

person or discipline. The balls of wax represent the formation and

embodiment of this new knowledge.

If people can move about (dance) in the middle ground (on the floor

of the lava-lamp), come in contact with each other and get motivated, an

energizing force is generated - a synergy is created. A sense of community

and belonging is nurtured - a sense that they are part of something bigger

than each one of them. At the same time, there is a realization that everyone is a new and

different person in each relationship formed in the fertile middle. The strength and potentialities

that emerge from this intellectual dance are life giving and transformative. In this space, people

would always wonder, and seek far-reaching solutions to the world’s pressing problems. When

people use the logic of the included middle (making a space for contradictions and

Figure 3

discontinuities in realities) to move through the different levels of reality, they generate a

permanent possibility for the evolution of knowledge. Theories at any given level of reality

become transitory theories, which are open to change when confronted with contradictions from

other, even new, levels of reality. Knowledge becomes an open, complex structure, rather than a

completely unified theory (Max-Neef, 2005). When educators design consumer citizenship

curricula using the logic of the included middle, they will naturally turn to all of industry,

government and civil society, and most especially to those implicit in, and affected by, the fall

out of unsustainable and unjust consumption. No longer will curricula be designed in isolation,

implemented using the logic of the exclusion. Relationships, partnerships, collaborations will be

everything, BUT from the logic of the included middle.

Axiom 3 - Epistemology: Knowledge complexity and emergence

From a TD perspective, the problems dealt with in CCE curricula are not the mundane

issues of credit, debt, and financial wellness; rather, they are the pervasive problems of humanity

that simply cannot be dealt with using the knowledge from one discipline: the human condition,

unbalanced energy flows, unfulfilled human potential, hindered freedom and justice,

unsustainability, disempowered individuals and communities, uneven distribution of resources,

and abuse of personal and political power through human aggression and uneven development. It

is because of these conditions of humanity, because of prevailing paradigms and ideologies, that

people experience the problems they do as consumers (McGregor, 2008). Consumers face the

symptoms of larger-than-life complex, emergent problems. Therefore, to create transdisciplinary

knowledge to deal with these symptoms, educators need to strive for a marriage of environmental

sciences, economics, politics, labour laws, sociology and anthropology, health and many other

disciplines (multiple levels of realties) in conjunction with the integration and cross-fertilization

of insights from the academy with private and public sectors and civil society (logic of


To that end, a TD methodology embraces different notions of what constitutes knowledge

than do the other three dominant methodologies evident

in consumer citizenship education (empirical, narrative

and critical). To describe this, we need a new

vocabulary, or at least different understandings of

familiar words, especially emergence and complexity

(as distinguished from complicated). Complexus means

that which is woven together (Morin, 1999). While

complicated and complex have the same root, they do

not mean the same thing in a TD methodology. A

complicated problem is characterized as hard to solve

because it is intricate, tangled, knotty and detailed. A

complex problem has the additional feature of


As an example, poverty can be seen from a

conventional stance to be a knotted mess, comprising

global and personal security, human rights, universal

Figure 4 Knotty complicated problem


rights, moral responsibilities, order with justice, and global as well as intergenerational justice. It

is one thing to untangle the strings of a

complicated problem, but quite another to reweave

them with new strings into a new whole,

and in the process gain a better understanding of

the world. Emergence comes into play now,

referring to novel qualities, properties, patterns

and structures that appear from relatively simple

interactions, qualities that did not exist when

presented in isolation. To continue the example,

emergence means people can assume that

poverty is continually changing. It is a rich

weave of societal structures and functions. This

new weave of poverty (and people’s

understanding of poverty) keeps changing

because new and coherent structures, patterns

and properties emerge as a result of the

interactions between people trying to address

poverty while working within a web of changing

relationships (in the included middle ground).

Original perceptions about addressing poverty are left behind or transformed as a new weave and

fabric takes shape (the activity within the lava-lamp). The energy created, the information

generated and the partnerships formed, also constantly change as understandings about poverty

change - everything is in flux and in-formation (see Figure 5).

For consumer citizenship educators, instead of just dealing with indebtedness, credit

acquisition practices and the like, they could grapple with the human problem of poverty and

unequal resource distribution that can play out in consumers’ lives as issues of credit, debt, and

housing issues. Their daily life becomes more complicated (knotted) and complex (presence of

order and disorder as things emerge). The TD methodology further requires that people adopt

new understandings of order and chaos. They have to learn to conceive of relations between

order, disorder and self-organization, rather than relations as empirical determinism. The latter

holds that every state of affairs is determined by what came before it and constitutes a link in an

unalterable chain of events: get a credit card, misuse it, get in debt, become poor - one thing leads

to another in a predictable pattern. In the empirical methodology, chaos and disorder are seen as

signs of deep trouble in the system. Not so, from a TD methodology. Wheatley (1999) explains

that order and chaos are mirror images of each other. Order is created through chaos, through the

processes of fluctuations, changes and disturbances. Chaos is order without predictability and

very different from the concept of order in the old science - predictable, controllable and


As well, a TD methodology includes the notion of self-organizing systems. Chaos is a

necessary place to dwell if people wish to engage in transdisciplinary inquiry and practice. They

have to trust that new insights will appear in this chaotic state, believe that they are self-

Figure 5 New patterns emerging during

complex problem solving


organizing beings able to change. Being stable, while being open, is foreign to the old science,

which assumes that when things wear down, the center cannot hold and things grind to a halt

(even fly apart). In the TD methodology, being stable, while open, happens because of people’s

deep stabilizing center where they know who they are,

what they need to do and that they are not acting alone

(in the lava-lamp). As people mature and develop selfknowledge,

they become more adept at this deeper, core

stability (see Figure 6). What comes to dominate over

time is the internal dynamics of the system instead of

the outside influences. Because people are partners with

the system (multiple layers of reality), they gain

autonomy from the system. The more freedom people

have to self-organize, the more order there is. The

system and people co-evolve over time. From a TD

methodology, consumer citizenship educators would

strongly believe in keeping themselves and students off

balance so that they can change and grow through an

open exchange with the world. It is then that they can

behave in ways that defy the normal expectations and

move themselves to new states of disequilibrium, knowing that a deeper stability is serving as

their foundation.

People would come to welcome chaos, emergence and complexity because they know it

is going to lead to personal growth and evolution. Change creates chaos (a lack of order or

regular arrangements). People will self-organize (reorganize) when they accept chaos and seek

solutions to the lack of order (the problems of humanity). This reorganization leads to renewal.

People do not try to maintain the old order but enter into trustful, sharing relationships with

others who have the same vision and relevant information and together create a new world and

creative solutions to complex, emergent problems. Through rich processes and exchanges,

multiple minds can interact and produce a complex knowledge containing its own reflexivity (in

the lava lamp). The knowledge is alive because the problems the knowledge addresses are alive,

emerging from the life world. This is a powerful methodological approach to consumer

citizenship education.

Axiom 4 - Axiology: Integral Values Constellation1

Figure 6 Order emerging from chaos


As a cavaet, not all TD theorists believe there should be a fourth axiom of axiology. 1 Nicolescu (2007)

credits Erich Jantsch (an Austrian) for underlining the necessity of inventing an axiomatic approach for

transdisciplinarity and also of introducing values in this field of knowledge. Nicolescu does not see the need for a

fourth axiom. He also credits Cicovacki (2003) as saying there is no need to introduce values as a 4th axiom

(Nicolescu (2006b, p.154); yet, perplexingly, Cicovacki explicitly says “transdisciplinarity requires the forth pillar as

well, a new transdisciplinary theory of values” (see also 2004, p.1). Time will tell how well this idea is received, but

it is included in this paper because it seemed salient.

All of this working together in fluctuating, enriching and challenging relationships

necessitates a concern for values. van Breda (2007) explains the world is facing a polycrisis, a

situation where there is no one, single big problem - only a series of overlapping, interconnected

problems. In a polycrisis, there are inter-retroactions between different problems, crises and

threats. This complexity infers the need for more than a single expert’s solution. However,

interactions between multiple actors as they problem solve a polycrisis will give rise to value

conflicts and contradictions. These conflicts can result in power struggles. In a TD methodology,

power is energy. Power is the capacity generated through relationships. Without relationships,

there cannot be power. Because power is energy, it needs to grow. Whether the power people

generate as they work together to solve complex, emergent problems is negative or positive

depends upon the nature of the relationships. That in turn is predicated on values.

Transdisciplinarity is about understanding the problems of the world (Nicolescu, 2007).

By association, transdisciplinarity must be concerned with values. Because TD is deeply

influenced by ethical and pragmatical matters, consumer citizenship educators must continue to

concern themselves with axiology (the science of values, ethics and morals). One of the intents of

axiology is to link thinking (valuing) with action (Giuculescu, 1998). Consumer citizenship is

very action oriented. Within transdisciplinary solving of complex, emergent problems, thinking

and action are intricately bound, necessitating a key focus on values. Indeed, Bazewicz (2000)

affirms that transdisciplinarity holds a holistic vision of the world, and is concerned with the

local and global integration of values. So is consumer citizenship (Thoresen, 2005).

Hartman (1967) posits that everyone’s value talent is in motion, changing as situations

change around them. Consumer citizenship educators can learn from this approach. Three

dimensions of values form the apex of anyone’s valuing process, and each person values things

in one of these three ways, or in some combination: (a) intrinsic value (personal or spiritual

empathy and self-esteem), (b) extrinsic value (practical or situational, including role awareness

and practical judgement/thinking); and, (c) systemic value (conceptual or theoretical constructs

of the mind including: system judgement (the ability to judge order within a system) and selfdirection,

motivation and persistence. The result can be tension amongst the three dimensions of

values. Bottom line - how people think will determine how they act in a problem solving

situation. Consumer citizenship educators can appreciate that proper valuing requires

attentiveness to all dimensions. To illustrate using sustainable consumption, a person may prefer

a particular corporation (intrinsic), but a balanced value attention would also include paying

attention to the vendor’s performance according to corporate social responsibly sourcing

standards (extrinsic), and its performance in a legal manner (systemic).

van Breda (2007) urges us to keep looking for agreement in the area of axiology, arguing

that, in order to develop necessary tolerance of different viewpoints so we can stay engaged in

conversations about the complex problems shaping the human condition, we have to respect the

role of axiology in transdisciplinarity. I tend to agree. Küpers (2009) asserts that changes in value

mixes are a key part of the rapidly changing global village and the profound changes are taking

place at all levels. He agrees with van Breda, that values are often the missing link in providing

strategic solutions to key, global issues that are informed by a collage of differing worldviews

held by individuals, cultures, nations and regional and international groups. He explains further

that peoples in civilizations progress naturally through three value systems: (a) collective values

(tribal, dictator/power and stability and order); (b) individual values (individual freedoms, private

enterprise, free market values, then environmental and ecological values); (c) integrative/integral

values (integration of all of the previous values in order to build a stronger integrated approach to

global issues).

Consumer citizenship educators need to appreciate that it took centuries for the first two

value systems to evolve and the world is only just now approaching any semblance of integral

values (Küpers, 2009). That is why it is crucial they continue their focus on values and

citizenship (Thoresen, 2005). The transdisciplinary dialogue, by its very nature, will witness the

inescapable value loading of every inference and every opinion. Every line of conversation will

face a potential clash of values, ethics and morals. Educators need to reconcile the different sorts

of knowledge characteristic of the sciences in the academy with the involvement of citizens in an

extended peer community (Funtowicz & Ravetz,

2008). They have to redefine and articulate

tomorrow’s values and reflect on the direction

these values may lead humanity (Bindé, 2004).

Society runs the risk of bad decisions if the world

of values (axiology) is not taken into account, and

if conflicts cannot be resolved. Given the

polycrisis we now face, we cannot risk too many

bad decisions, nor persistent conflict. People need

to be able to respect the value of the differences

between themselves, and build on those insights.

An integral value constellation is an laudable goal

for transdisciplinary consumer citizenship



If the conditions needed for the generation of transdisciplinary knowledge are in place

(levels of reality, logic of the included middle, complex knowledge and emergence, and an

integral value constellation), a platform is created from which to dialogue about consumer

citizenship and the power of the

transdisciplinary methodology. As noted, the

ideas in this paper serve to scaffold future

conversations about the possible nature of

pedagogical CCE innovations. The contents

of the paper should enable CCN participants

to expand on Thoresen’s (2005) CCE

interdisciplinary guidelines. CCE can become

a transdisciplinary pursuit employing the

four-axiom TD methodology.

Figure 7 Integral values constellation



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Wheatley, M. (1999). Leadership and the new sciences. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

";Consumer Citizenship as an Element of the European Social and Economic Dialogue (the venues of R&D interdisciplinary clusters)"; Kostadin Grozev

The proposed paper will present the recent experience of the newly found Institute of Doctoral and Postdoctoral Studies ";Dialogue Europe"; at Sofia University (Bulgaria) and its potential for developing the theme of consumer citizenship as one of its research targets. The new interdisciplinary university structure aims at developing the research skills and knowledge of perspective young scholars through investigation of significant research agendas. Through grants, conferences, summer schools and book rpojects the Institute will strengthen the understanding of various EU themes - consumer citizenship included. Certain analysis will be made on the results so far and the potential for colalboration with networks such as CCN. Thus the Institute can soon evolve into a real R&D cluster capable of suggesting policy approaches and networking among academia, business,state institutions and NGOs.

My proposal is for a 15 min  presentation in Track 3

An Exploratory Framework for Consumer Citizenship Education in Japan’s Home Economics Curriculum

Rieko Hanashiro, Lakshmi Malroutu and Diane Masuo

Rieko Hanashiro

University of the Ryukyus, Faculty of Education

Okinawa, Japan

1 Senbaru Nishihara Okinawa, Japan 903-0123

+81-98-895-8400, rieko@edu.u-ryukyu.ac.jp

Lakshmi Malroutu

California State University, Sacramento, Office of Academic Affairs

California, U.S.A

Sacramento Hall 259, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819, USA

+1-916-278-2930, malroutu@csus.edu

Diane Masuo

University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

Hawaii, U.S.A.

2515 Campus Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA

+1-808-956-2231, masuo@hawaii.edu


Consumerism in Japan is not contained within its geographic boundaries but is global in nature. When we look at the production and supply of one of our basic needs, food, we can determine the interconnectedness of this process. The rate of food production in Japan is less than 40 percent in 2009 and the Japanese import more than half its food supply from other countries especially China. With such overdependence on food imports, it is not surprising to hear news headlines about insecticide-tainted meat dumplings from China that caused severe food poisoning and led to public hysteria against all Chinese-made foods. Japanese health officials were unable to explain how thousands of tons to contaminated meat products were allowed into Japan, which is supposed to have some of the world’s toughest checks on imported food. In an ironic twist, the food was imported by the Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union, the largest consumer group in Japan which regards food safety as its top priority. Economic borders between countries have already disappeared; when Lehman Brothers in the U.S. collapsed it immediately affected Japanese businesses and stocks in Japan took a sharp nosedive. As a result, Japanese companies started lay-offs and eventually the economic crisis spread all over the world. The rapid globalization has increased wealth for some but, at the same time, has contributed to greater economic disparities both at the national and global levels.

Internet transcends information borders. A White paper on Information and Communications in Japan in 2008 indicated that internet penetration rate in 2007 was 69 percent and the cellular phone internet usage accounts for 13-19 year olds was 77 percent and 83 percent for 20-29 year olds. Internet is a way of life for the younger generations. National Consumer Affairs Center (NCAC) of Japan receives and handles complaints and inquiries from consumers and gathers information via an online network which connects local consumer centers across the country and participating hospitals, the system is called PIO-NET (Practical living Information Online Network). According to PIO-NET, the number of consumers’ complaints/inquiries in 2007 increased to 1,041,506, of which the five largest complaints/inquiries categories were: (1) phone information service, (2) consumer debts, (3) general commodities, (4) on-line services, and (5) house/apartment rent. Paralleling the penetration of cellular phone and internet use, consumer complaints are increasing. Japan’s consumer issues have already crossed its national borders and are becoming global consumer issues. In a converging world, it is imperative that consumer issues be solved with a global perspective because food, energy, environmental, or economic crises are not just other people’s problems but are universal problems with far reaching implications.

Consumers who make sound societal decisions are persons who consider other people, other countries, public benefit, future generations, and natural environment before their own personal or short-term gains in their decision-making process. Japan Consumer Education Academy (2007) pointed out that consumer education develops consumers who “not only make appropriate personal consumer decisions in various economic and social environments but also societal decisions that influence markets and politics.” The fact that consumer behavior affects business and the environment is well documented. Consumers execute their economic and environmental vote with their daily shopping choices. However educators must recognize that many consumers are not aware of the power of their vote in the marketplace on the economy and the environment. Consequently, although consumers are unaware of their influence, their decisions affect society. Therefore, greater emphasis and education must be provided to develop consumer competency for the creation of a better world. Consumer Citizenship Education (CCE) which focuses on empowering consumer action to build a sustainable world is urgently needed in Japan. Consumer Education is taught mainly in Home Economics Education in Japan. The objective of this study is to propose an exploratory framework for introducing CCE in Japan’s Home Economics curricula.


Guidelines for Junior High Home Economics
Four sections that must be taught:
(A) Family, home and child development

(B) Diet and self-help

(C) Clothing and shelter, and self-help

(D) Daily consumption and environment

Keywords in textbook (number of pages = 233):

Our consumption and environment (2 pages)
process of purchasing commodities, goal is to check resources and gather information, consider alternatives and consequences, consider decision-making process and take action, quality, price, environmental influence and post purchase of commodity
Think about consumption (4 pages)
purchasing commodity, use information, check labels, universal design and barrier free design, store shopping, mail-order, on-line shopping, door-to-door sales, pre-paid card, cash, post payment, watching advertisements
Consumer awareness (8 pages)
contracts and consumer, 8 consumer rights and 5 responsibilities, consumer fraud, internet fraud, case study of consumer trouble where victims were junior high students, basic consumer act, consumer contract act, product liability act, cooling-off period, National Consumer Center, what to do when one is faced with consumer related problems
Considering environment in daily life (5 pages)
green consumer, container wrapping, recycle act, green buying act, shopping is a consumer vote, decision-making process, environment bingo
A better world (6 pages)
life cycle of T-shirts, reduce, reuse, recycle, effective use of energy, air conditioners, reregister, wasting electric energy, reusing shopping bags

*How to buy food (6 pages) and how to choose clothing (4 pages) are stated in ";(B) diet and
self-help"; and ";(C) clothing and shelter ";sections.
Recycling in society and labels (4 pages) of daily goods are covered in the introduction of textbook.

Contents of ";section (D) daily consumption and environment";
(1)Family life and consumer
consumer rights and responsibilities, consumer

center, cooling-off period, consumer trouble,

contract between two, e-money, characteristics of

selling, choosing, buying and using necessities in

daily life
(2) Family life and environment
consumption with consideration of the environment,

recycling in society, reduction of garbage

Guidelines for Elementary Home Economics
Four sections that must be taught:
(A) Daily living and family

(B) Food and basic cooking

(C) Adequate clothing and shelter

(D) Daily consumption and environment

Keywords in textbook (number of pages = 100):

Reuse unnecessary things (2 pages):
frayed t-shirt, cushion, reform, reuse, recycling, used cans and boxes, decreasing food leftovers, recycling markets, flea market, disposable cups and dishes
Think about shopping (4 pages):
getting money and spending money, prepaid cards, idea of planned shopping, wants, needs, vending machine, internet, mail-order, plan/gather information-select shop-select goods-buy-get feedback, and labels
Think about environment and daily life (2 pages):
resources and waste, garbage and compost, environment mapping, eco-cooking, water in daily life, decreasing energy usage

*Checking of food label (1 page) is stated in ";section (B) food and basic cooking";

Contents of “section (D) daily consumption and environment”
(1) How to use things and money, and shopping are

taught as follows:
a) Student understands the importance of things and

money, and their planned usage
b) Student understands how to choose daily things

and if they can purchase them
(2) Environmentally conscious
a) Student understands the relationship between

their daily life and environment, and then

consider how to use things responsibly

Figure2. Educational Guidelines for Junior High Home Economics and keywords in textbooks

igure1. Educational Guidelines for Elementary Home Economics and keywords in textbooks

Present state of Japan’s Consumer Education taught in Home Economics Education

Since Japan’s Educational System is controlled by the government through the Educational Guidelines which are revised every ten years, the scope and sequence of the Home

Economics including Consumer Education lies in their purview. Home Economics was traditionally focused on domestic arts like food, clothing and shelter and consumer education was not included in the curriculum until recently. Terms related to consumer educationsuch as “consumer attitudes” or “consumer consciousness” were first seen in the Educational Guidelines in 1989. The formal introduction of the field of consumer education in Home Economics textbooks at elementary schools was in 1992, junior high schools in 1993, and senior high schools in 1994. Because Home Economics is mandated as a co-education subject in Japan, technical terms such as consumer center, cooling-off periods or consumer rights and responsibilities are becoming familiar among younger Japanese. The latest Guideline revisions were made in 2008 for elementary and junior high schools, while senior high school guidelines are slated for revision in 2009 or 2010.

Figure3. Educational Guidelines for Senior High General Home Economics and keywords in textbooks

Guidelines for Senior High General Home Economics

Six sections that must be taught:

(1) Human life and family/home

(2) Child development and care/welfare

(3) Life and welfare of the elderly

(4) Science and culture of daily living

(5) Consumption and resources/environment

(6) Home project and school Home Economics club activity

Keywords in textbook (number of pages = 237):

Consumption and Decision-making (3 pages)

decision-making process

Consumer as related to society (10 pages)

contracts, reliable information, reliability of labels, credit card, non-store shopping, cashless society, e-commerce, consumer credit, debts, consumer bankruptcy, interest rates, 8 consumer rights and 4 responsibilities, consumer problems, consumer fraud, examples of current consumer fraud, Basic Consumer Act, National Consumer Center, local consumer center, cooling-off, contracts issued to minors, Consumer Contract Act, over indebtedness, consumer bankruptcy, online shopping, information literacy, Product Liability Act

Consumer Action and Resource/Environment (5 pages)

lifestyle and environmental impact, import of mineral water, fair trade, laws that encourage recycling, environmental labels, life cycle assessment, ISO, green consumer, green market, reduce, reuse, recycle, environmental book keeping, environmental issues in developing countries

Future Consumer Life (2 pages)

sustainable society, consumer view is needed for producers, consuming foods which are produced locally, slow food, simple life

Life Design (13 pages)

life design of working, selection of job, full-time and part-time job, balance between work and home, income and expenditure, life stage and personal finance, savings and insurance, social security, financial commodity, mortgage, interest rate, national economy, international economy, inflation and deflation, risk, social insurance, social welfare, tax

*Choosing/buying food (2 pages) and choosing clothes (2 pages) are covered in section (4) Science and culture of daily living section. Eco-cooking (2 pages) is an example of section (6) Home project and school home economics club activity section.

Contents of “section (5) consumption and resource/environment”

Personal finance, and consumer rights and responsibilities are explained. Contemporary consumer issues are documented. Resources and environment are considered, and responsible action is taken based to appropriate consumer decision-making.
a. Consumer action and decision-making
b. Personal finance
c. Consumer rights and responsibilities
d. Consumer action and resource/environment

After the scope and sequence of all textbooks are checked against the guidelines set by the Textbook Examination Committee, authorized textbooks are published. If the textbook’s content is missing the educational guideline or varies from what is specified by the committee, publication of the textbook is not permitted. As a result, although slight variations may exist in the way the content is expressed, the contents of all textbooks are standardized. In 2009, there were 2 elementary textbooks, 2 junior high textbooks and 28 senior high textbooks. The senior high textbooks can be categorized as: Basic Home Economics, General Home Economics and Living Skills. Of the 28 senior high textbooks, 14 are Basic Home Economics, 12 are General Home Economics and 2 are Living Skills. Two companies publish all educational textbooks from elementary to senior high school for Home Economics. A content analysis of Educational Guidelines and keywords was completed for all textbooks published by Tokyosyoseki, the larger publisher of Home Economics textbooks and is presented in Figures 1, 2, and 3.

Home Economics for elementary students is taught for 60 unit hours in the 5th grade and for 55 unit hours in 6th grade. One unit hour is equal to 45 minutes. There are four sections in elementary home economics, these are “daily living and family,” “food and basic cooking,” “comfortable clothing and shelter,” and “daily consumption and environment”. As indicated in Figure 1, the textbook titled ";New Household"; published for elementary students by Tokyosyoseki devotes 9 pages or 9 percent of 100 pages for consumer issues.

Junior High Educational Guidelines were also revised in 2008 and a new textbook based on the new guidelines is in use this year. Standard hours are 35 unit hours in the 1st grade, 35 unit hours in the 2nd grade and 17.5 unit hours in the 3rd grade. One unit hour is equal to 50 minutes. As shown in Figure 2, ";Home and Technology"; published by Tokyosyoseki in 2009 covers consumer issues in 39 pages or 17 percent of a total of 233 pages. Senior High Educational Guidelines are slated for revision in 2009 or 2010. The current guidelines and contents of General Home Economics are shown in Figure 3. Standard hours are 35 unit hours in Basic Home Economics and Living Skills, and 70 unit hours in General Home Economics. One unit hour is equal to 50 minutes. “General Home Economics including self-help, symbiosis, and creation” are covered in 39 pages or 16percent, of 237 pages. Although the same topics are covered from elementary to senior high, supplementary explanations are included at the higher grade levels. However, some topics are repeated, for example, the eight consumer rights and five responsibilities and the 3R movement - reduce, reuse and recycle are the same in junior and senior high. As shown in Figures 1, 2, and 3, consumer topics which are included in every level may be classified into five categories: consumer decision-making, financial management, consumer fraud, consumer law and environment.

The key component that is missing from Japanese Home Economics education is the inclusion of citizenship education that could strengthen students’ competency to build a better world by learning to be active citizens. The current topics focus on improving daily life but do not cover topics on societal improvement and advancement. This is evident when teaching the topic on the decision-making process. Guidelines for the decision-making process state that resources that influence the environment must be considered when choosing alternatives. However, the influence on businesses, government, local economy and other countries are not covered. In order to influence the world, not only must the product information for improving daily life be considered but business information including business contributions towards public good, local welfare, natural environment, market fairness, gender and minority equality, participation of developing countries, and sharing resources with future generations are useful information when choosing alternatives.

Currently, what is lacking in Japanese Home Economics education for citizenship education is the focus on creating a better world beyond just personal benefits by emphasizing individual and societal values. Since the Japanese education system does not mention values in its curriculum it is no surprise that nor does Home Economics education. Secondly, values that provide direction for action for consumer citizens to create global sustainability should be included. Global sustainability is needed to sustain social security. Thirdly, social security is necessary to meet basic needs globally. Social security benefits, education, job training, child care, medical care, pension are essential for all citizens. If these resources are lacking or not distributed equitably, citizens cannot maintain the standard of living expected in a civilized society. Lastly, practical skills to be active citizens, not just homemakers, must be emphasized.

How to introduce consumer citizenship education in Japanese Home Economics curricula?


onsumer citizenship education strengthens students’ competency to build a better world by being active citizens. Kodama (2004) suggested addressing both political and career independence in Japanese citizenship education. Without citizen’s political participation, a democratic society ceases to exist. Without a career or a job, a person’s financial freedom ceases because money is the only medium to buy goods and services in a capitalistic society. Finally, a third aspect that deserves attention is the consumer perspective, a key factor that has been overlooked. Without all three components, citizenship education will not be complete.

Sanuki (2003) stated that action must be two-sided for youth to become independent citizens. On one hand, youth themselves must be motivated to take the initiative to exercise their citizen rights and be a responsible citizen. On the other hand, society must make a commitment to model youth to be responsible citizens. In Japan, governmental involvement to shape youth to be responsible citizens is not stellar; in lieu of government, businesses took on this role. Permanent employment offers not only income and job security, but also job training, housing, health care and pension benefits. This system worked well in the past decades when younger people got a job when they were young adults, and earned money to cope with their daily living, got married, purchased a house, raised children, and had the financial stability of earning a pension in retirement. Therefore, people could be independent citizens and fulfill their rights and responsibilities. However, the role of businesses in the economy is changing. In current times, because of economic and social changes, one-third of Japan’s workers are neither formally employed nor employed full-time. As evidenced after Lehman Brothers collapse, even full-time workers in Japan were in danger of losing their jobs.

Government involvement to provide national welfare to maintain the standard of living for all citizens is a focus of CCE. If the cost of national welfare is borne by taxpayers, then CCE should encourage autonomous or independent citizenry who can then shape the direction and state of Social Security. Key concepts, which are lacking in current Home Economics curriculum are: ways to create a sustainable world, cultivating values, sustaining social security and developing skills to bring about societal change. According to CCN guidelines, “training in the art of value-based behavior” is an essential aspect of becoming a consumer citizen. Thoresen (2005) mentions the importance of principles of equity, equality, social justice and human rights. The values of human dignity and equality, human rights, common good, gender equality are reiterated in the Crick report by the Advisory Group of Citizenship (1984). The topic “values and value system” can be introduced in any subject related to citizenship education, however, an important goal is to make sure that these values become a guiding factor for consumer citizen behavior, not mere citizen behavior. Values, especially those related to consumers or consumption are as follows:

Safety of lifeand health

  • Safeguarding of human life. This is an important value for consumers, producers, and the government. Goods and services should be produced to preserve human life and property.

Sharing to eradicate poverty

  • Acquiring basic needs for global citizens

  • Consuming with the purpose of securing human dignity

Equity and equality in marketplace and public service

  • Having transparency among key constituents, that is, consumers, producers and government for equity and equality

  • Social security system that does not create societal disparity and vulnerability

Stability for local community

  • Respecting diversity of consumption

  • Contributing to local economy

  • Influencing businesses to contribute to local community through consumer shopping vote

Cooperation and solidarity for global and societal sustainability

  • Promoting world peace through trade

  • Sharing resources globally through fair trade agreements

  • Producing commodities using fair labor practices

Safe environment

  • Sustainable development in consumption and production

As stated “citizenship education is education for citizenry to behave and act as citizens, therefore, it is not just knowledge of citizenship and civic society; it also implies developing values, skills and understanding” (Advisory Group on Citizenship, 1998). The operationalization of citizenship education is missing in Japanese Home Economics curriculum. Although the mechanism of the political and economic systems is taught in Civics courses, Ookubo (2006) mentioned that students lack critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills on how to participate in these systems. The ability to think critically and pragmatically is missing not only in Civics course but also in other subjects. In an interview with Hadlston, a representative of the Association for Promotion of Citizenship Education in UK, citizenship education was described as more than comprehending information about politics, law and economics. It is a conceptualized reality which requires competency in skills including critical thinking, discussion, debate, negotiation, investigating, analyzing, and presentation (Arai, 2008). It is possible to introduce these competencies in Japanese Home Economics curricula to promote consumer citizenship.


urrently, the subject, “Sougouennsyu or General Exercise,” is cross- curricular and interdisciplinary and focuses on issues such as international understanding, information, environment, welfare, and health. The goal of “Sougouennsyu” is to learn how to live. Although the subject does not cover the consumer perspective, the topics covered are closely related to consumerism and consumption. Therefore, it is possible to modify the subject to include the topics of CCE and introduce the subject in the Home Economics curriculum. “Home Project”, one of the six sections that must be taught in Home Economics (See, Figure 3), focuses on solving private life problems. In order to introduce the citizenship dimension in Home Economics, it is possible to expand the topic from solving private life problems of a homemaker, to collective life or global problems of a consumer citizen.

Since CCE focuses on improving both individual and community life, in addition to a “home project” section, an additional project titled “consumer citizenship project” could be introduced. Controversial and global issues that are integrated into the consumer, society and environment section can be discussed using a problem-solving approach. Examples of topics to be included in the consumer citizenship project are:

  • Human life and consumption

  • Earning and spending

  • Human life and welfare

  • Human life and commodities

  • Safety of goods and services and health

  • A humanistic view of consumption, basic needs and poverty

  • World peace and how I can promote it as a consumer citizen

  • Environment and what I can do safeguard it as a consumer citizen

  • Global economy and what role I play as a consumer citizen

  • Local economy and what I need to do as a consumer citizen to keep it thriving

  • Developing countries and my role as a consumer citizen in a developed country

  • Internet and my connection to it as a consumer citizen

  • Gender and consumption

  • Culture in consumption

Students will be able to select from a broad range of topics and develop their project based on their personal and family experiences, social and natural environment, culture and religion. Students can share their projects and discuss their findings in class. By completing the project and class discussions, students will learn how to:

  • research issues critically

  • gather information

  • analyze critically and select useful information

  • present, discuss and debate

  • investigate scientific evidence and persuasive opinions critically

Critical thinking skills such as cognitive skills, internet literacy, and media literacy are essential for citizenship education along with development of interpersonal, collaboration, and leadership skills. One of the goals in CCE is developing skills to listen, communicate, and be able to work with others who have different opinions. Through dialogue and practice, one can:

  • develop an attitude of openness and fairness to opposing viewpoints

  • build consensus, especially when there are disagreements

  • change previously held beliefs in light of discussion and evidence

  • lean how to partner with others, even if they have differing opinions

Figure 5 illustrates the relationship among values, knowledge and skills in developing consumer citizenship competency.


Consumer issues like food, energy, environmental and economic crises are not solved without empowering consumer citizens. CCE which focuses on empowering consumer citizens to commit to actively building a societal and environmental sustainable world is urgently needed. Since Japan’s Consumer Education is taught mainly in Home Economics, the objective of this study is to offer an exploratory framework for introducing CCE in Japan’s Home Economics curriculum.

(1) Consumer Education is mainly taught in Home Economics in Japan. The present state of consumer education in Home Economics was investigated. A content analysis was done of Educational Guidelines and keywords in textbooks from elementary, junior high and senior high school levels. As the results indicate, Japan’s consumer education in Home Economics was insufficient to develop consumer citizens. Key concepts that need to be introduced are social security and active citizenry.

(2) Creating a world viewpoint and social security are related to another key concept, values. Values are related to consumerism and consumption and hence the following topics are important: Safety of life and health, eradication of poverty, equity and equality in marketplace and public goods, stability of local community, cooperation and solidarity for global sustainability and safe environment.

(3) Since CCE focuses on improving both, individual and community life, in addition to “home project” section, an additional project titled “consumer citizenship project” could be introduced. Examples of topics for consumer citizenship project are specified.

(4) In order to be a consumer citizen, critical thinking skills such as cognitive, listening, communication, and analytical skills are essential along with development of interpersonal, collaboration, and leadership skills. These skills can be included in “consumer citizenship project.”


Advisory Group on Citizenship. (1998). Education for citizenship and the teaching of democracy in schools - Final report of the Advisory Group on Citizenship. London: Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. p.44

Arai, A. (2008). British citizenship education. Our Square - The association for Promotion for Fair Elections. No.299, p18.

Japan Consumer Education Academy. (2007). New Consumer Education Q & A (written in Japanese), Chubunihonkyouikubunnkakai, Nagoya, p.7

Kodama, S. (2004). Educational Ideas of citizenship, Tokyo: Hakutakusya. p.114

Ookubo, M. (2006). Practice of consumer citizenship education. Our Square - The association for Promotion for Fair Elections. No.291, p.7.

Sanuki, H. (2003). British educational revolution and Japan. Tokyo: Kobunken. p.182

Thoresen, V. (2005). Consumer Citizenship Education Guidelines Vol. 1 Higher

Education. The Consumer Citizenship Network, Norway, p.11.


Elementary Home Economics: Shibukawa, Syoko. (2009). New Home. Tokyo: Tokyosyoseki.

Junior High Home Economics: Sato, Fumiko. (2009). New Technology and Home - Home field. Tokyo: Tokyosyoseki.

Senior High Home Economics: Makino, Katuko. (2009). General Home Economics - Self-help, Symbiosis, and Creation. Tokyo: Tokyosyoseki.

Potential contribution from international educational programs to Environmental Awareness and Political Interaction Inger Haug

Author and presentation: Inger Haug, Associate Professor and Program Director of “Society and Culture” Challenges of Contemporary Society, Hedmark University College, Norway.

Key words: Education, Democracy, Development, Conflict Management and the Environment


To-days young people and students are the carriers and caretakers of to-morrows world. The way they are introduced to and working with challenges of contemporary society will contribute to our experienced future. Their perceptions of future challenges might be a decisive determinant for consumer behavior.

Society and Culture - Challenges of Contemporary Society – is an international undergraduate academic semester program at Hedmark University College. The program originated as a tripartite agreement between Pacific Lutheran University (WA, US), the University of Namibia and Hedmark University College, Norway, in 2000. After three initiating years, a semester long international program focusing Challenges of Contemporary Society was born. The bold idea of this program is to allow students to meet in a free academic atmosphere and to investigate and experience the challenges of intercultural communication and research on topics central to man’s future on earth.

The key concepts of the program are what the initiators of the program consider to construct the core challenges of contemporary society: Welfare, Democracy, Development and Conflict Management; neither of which can be investigated and understood without being related to the constraints and potentials of the environment, locally as well as globally.

Discussing our understanding and strategies for environmental management and conflict mediation in an intercultural setting, gives all participants a unique learning experience. Different perspectives for understanding are not read, but present in the classroom through the students.

The paper will share empirical evidence and reflections on core issues and questions manifesting themselves throughout the period the program have been running:

  • How does an international body of students – brought together for a limited amount of time interact and share perceptions of “contemporary challenges of society”?

  • What do the students choose to focus when given the freedom of identifying a case for academic investigation within the framework of democracy and development?

  • How does the faculty of an international program work and interact with society and students to make the voices of all participating groups and individuals being heard and listened to?

The participating student body incorporates four continents with students being recruited from US, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Somalia, Nepal, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany and Norway. (The Norwegian group including immigrants from Bosnia, Chile, the Netherlands, Somalia and Cyprus)

Hamar 08.12.08

Inger Haug,

Associate prof. Political Science, Hedmark University College


Consumptions and lifestyles in the press

Susana Henriques

Researcher CIES / ISCTE; Professor Universidade Aberta (UAb)


00351 964 685 119



This communication results of a research work (in the scope of the PHD Program) on the way the media express and constitute the consumptions and lifestyles in nowadays societies.

With the fusing between advertising and programming, the boundaries between what it´s advertising material and not advertising material becomes very fluid. Thus, the traditional formula that separated the content of the media (entertainment, information and education) from the advertising (selling), is replaced by another one where the proper advertising can be seen as entertainment and information, such as the normal media programming. This hybrid nature is present on the articles in analysis.

The empiric reference are 1105 news of the written Portuguese press, collected between 2004 and 2005, in periodicals and magazines of generalist information of higher circulation.

In this paper we present a discussion of the analyzed data, based on content analysis and critical discourse analysis. The collected articles were analyzed in seven different dimensions – body care, diets and food, health (and illness), substances (chemical and natural), leisure (facilities and activities), icons (public people and famous personalities), metareflexivity (journalistic articles that reflect on the proper speech of the media or, on the consumptions and the lifestyles in the present societies). In conclusion we found a need of developing strategies of Education form Consumer Citizenship.


From the analysis of the main topics covered in the selected news, guided for the understanding of the way the national press express and constitutes the consumptions and lifestyles, it is possible to conclude that the convergences are more significant than the divergences. These last ones exist, in a relatively smooth way, in some aspects, for example: Única is the magazine with more articles collected in the dimensions ";Diets and food"; and ";Icons";; in Correio Vidas the “Body care” is the predominant dimension; in Jornal de Notícias and in Notícias Magazine more importance is given to the ";Substances";; XIS seems more worried about ";Health"; and ";Leisure";; finally, in Visão, the majority of the selected articles belongs to the ";Metareflexivity";. However, these cannot be considered as deep divergences which can divide or move away unequivocally the journalistic supports (periodicals, supplements and informative magazines).

The diversity of the sources considered here, in terms of preferential public-target, that is, more popular periodicals or of reference, daily and weekly, of national and regional broadcasting (although Jornal de Notícias is a ";regional"; of wide broadcasting) and magazines of generic information, disclosed some differences in the focus given to certain particular contexts. However, this didn’t create significant differences, since in all these we have found articles where the problematic in study is present, thematized. In the same way, we transversally found - either in the diverse consulted sources, or in the considered dimensions - elements revealing the hybrid nature that results of the presence of marketing elements allied to the journalistic logic of news production.

Therefore, we identify the ";marketing attitude"; defined by Lendrevie and others (1993), which implies that the decision processes are, more and more, guided for, and in function of, the consumer, in this case, the reader of the written portuguese press. According to Serrano (2006) the appearance of the supplements of periodicals came to answer, precisely, to this necessity. Necessity that is, simultaneously, of the periodicals (as a form to be answered to the requirements of the market: readers and advertisers), of its public (that look for utilitarian information in close connection to the supply and demand of products and services, to the consumption and the taste) and of the advertisers (who ,this way, see their products, services, brands and respective prices promoted in promotional articles, in such a more efficient way, the less explicit it is identified as advertising).

This trend strengthens the need of a widened vision of the ";universes of the news"; (in the expression of Ponte, 2004), allowing to involve the field of the culture and the conflict of representations, in nowadays´ societies. What is expressed considering the implied questions in the news selection and in its productive processes (Wolf, 1992). That is, the images which the periodicals and the advertisers have of its public perpetuate ways of saying that try to be close of the interest of this (represented) public. In the analyzed articles, these processes are identifiable in the very hedonist nature associated to the consumption. For instance, even when we find articles with stories of more difficult situations (as in the cases of illnesses) focus is given to the presentation of some suggestions - that can be of technological innovations, products or services - with the objective to improve the quality of life. This perspective is, still, strengthened by articles centred in self-support. Another example, in the headings of the articles we find traces that the consumptions and lifestyles, in the different analytical dimensions, translate news focus that feed entertainment and information spaces. Thus, we assist to a ";marketization of the speech"; (Fairclough, 1995). That is, the journalistic speech tries to become more appealing by increasing the resource of the visual and the pictorial elements: colours, photographs, illustrations. In the analyzed articles this marketization of the speech through these traces is well present, since only about 5% of the news did not have any type of photograph or illustration29. These elements, present in most of the analyzed articles, configure the role of the media in the social construction of reality, since they contribute to create shared experiences. Thus, they are assumed as collective instruments of knowledge and agreement of the real.

Therefore, in the mediation process, the created meanings are dynamic. Concretely, in the consumptions and lifestyles´ field, we assist to its reproduction, transformation and emergency that can be identified in the considered dimensions of analysis. Reproduction of consumptions and lifestyles standards culturally rooted that express themselves, for example, in the body care, essentially associated to women, but also starting to be a concern of the men, which represents the emergent attention that the media helps to constitute. Transformation of consumption trends that, when revitalized, assume new modernity and current shapes. As it is the case of the trend ";retro";, this is manifested in a dress style, but equally in the decoration or other signs linked to consumption and lifestyles, as places to be or the music to hear. Finally, emergency of new trends, associated to the ";styles"; of celebrities (icons) in the clothes they wear, in griffes they choose, in the cars they drive, or the travelling destinations they choose, for instance.

Let us now see the main conclusions for each one of the considered dimensions.

Body Care

It’s a set of 118 news articles that approach themes related to the body hygiene – well-care directed to specific areas (feet, hair, face, hands) and beauty advices to maintain the young appearance, tricks for special occasions (as make up or self tanners), rituals to follow and keep ";perfect shapes";. These news evidence an increasing importance given to the personal image, of the body and fashion. The fashion – of the dressing and of the silhouettes – is one of the most significant expressions that makes the values system circulate, collectively shared with its rules of behaviour (Castilho, 2006).

It is the notion of the beautiful body that seems to become the standard in the construction of an ideal body, according to which it evaluates, it moulds and it builds the own body, based in stylized images, build and propagated by the media. The self image of the body seems to be dependent of social images and the individual seems to invest lots of his time to control and to supervise the appearance of its body, its ";look";. The collected articles show this concern. They also witness a strong presence of the marketing logics, specially, expressed in the diffusion and advising of places and products.

Diets and Food

This dimension is about news (141) which central subject is nourishment: places of meals or acquisition of specific foods, the benefits of some foods for the health and well-being, fast-food, alimentary riots...

The trend seems to be the search of the perfect nourishment to keep health and silhouette; this situation can lead to the riots of the alimentary behaviour, to the excesses – obesity –, to the scarcity – anorexia – or to the healthful obsession for - ortorexia. In parallel, there are contradictory information related to the relationship between the dangers and the benefits of diets or, specifically, of particular kinds of food, which is connected to the notion of risk society (Bck, 1992).

In these articles there is, clear and constantly, one appeal to the healthful and concordant consumptions and lifestyles with the standards presented in the media, expressed in the idea of the nourishment as a form to get a healthful appearance and a favourable physical form, that is, lean.


Health is a dimension composed by 179 articles that approach questions as illnesses (diverse pathologies of the physical and psychological forums), innovations (advances to the levels of the medical techniques and medicines), dangers (alerts to some levels - technological, pharmacological, of the practices and the behaviours), prevention of illnesses (through the promotion of the health and the physical and psychological well-being).

The concerns appear out of context and globalized; it is the case of the alimentary and the environmentally concerns in health; or the case of the pandemics, as the birds flu. However, technological advances, at same time, create new expectations with new therapies and also alert for the discovery of unknown effects until then.


This one mentions substances capable to modify the mood and conscience states and to reduce the suffering. It is the dimension with more collected articles, 209.

These news products translate the social search of different experiences to the level of the conscience and mood states and to the level of the integration and interaction, through the resource of diverse practices and substances. Here we find parts on alcoholic beverages, alcohol free drinks, tobacco, substances – as medicines –, illegal substances – as ";drugs"; – and several addictions.

In a transversal way to all the substances that are quoted we note the complexity of the economic interests that cross the respective fields – of medicines, drinks and others. Another transversal aspect to all the quoted substances is the fact that the substances, by themselves, are not beneficial or harmful; the benefits or damages happen, generally speaking, of the uses that each one makes of it – this conclusion, not being explicit in any of the articles, are allowed by crossing of the information of the different articles.


This dimension relates to a set of articles (168) related to travelling destinations suggestions according to a logic of valuation a natural, healthful and stress less life.

The leisure holds a double reading: on one hand, the articles (or this kind of articles) tend to fulfil, more and more, the function of entertainment; on the other hand, the presented offers tend to configure, essentially, forms of breaking up with the daily routine. This rupture can be made through more spirituals ways to reach greater serenity or through other more material strategies, as travelling, decoration, for example.


The icons represent the reference of public figures (in 133 articles): their lives and careers, forms of diversion, styles to follow.

The presence of these people in media configures them as icons, as models to follow in their consumptions – body image, dressing and the accessories, fragrances, the daily things, as the cars they drive or their travelling destinations. The icons are models of behaviour and styles to follow and imitate. And even when they appear associated to socially less valued behaviours, they transmit the idea that they had been able to get over them (with all the resulting implications).


Metareflexivity is composed by 157 articles and holds two dimensions:

1) Metadiscourse is centred in articles in which speech produces and constitutes one proper vision of the media concerning the consumptions and lifestyles. We find, here, articles where the relation, stronger and stronger, between information, entertainment and spreading or promotion is explicit, in market logic.

2) Reflexivity is centred in articles that, in some way, intend to reflect about the consumptions and lifestyles in the current societies. It discloses a concern with the media effects on the audiences, with a closer attention to those considered more vulnerable, as the children, and a concern with the excesses associated to the consumption.


The mass journalism has become, as a result of the market orientation: more focused on the profits; more dependent on the advertising; more directed to entertainment; and one guide of consumptions. This orientation has gradually also stimulated new demanding in the consumers, which stimulates consumers with critical analysis skills, with responsibility and capacity to develop organized forms of action.

The consumptions imply choices and these reflect the cultural model where they insert themselves through their meaning. Also the media consumption implies choices. To make choices the individuals must have information concerning the diverse options, as well as of the results (positive or negative) that can happen from them.

Thereby, from the conclusions of the research, we identify a need to develop strategies of inquiry-share in the areas of media literacy and consumption literacy. That is developing actions that promote citizenship in general and in consumer’s behaviour specifically. Aiming, thus, to promote the consumerism – understood as the spontaneous or elaborated participation of the consumers in the socioeconomics decisions that affect them (Saints, 1994; Hébert, 1997).


Beck, Ulrich (1992), Risk society – towards a new modernity, Londres, Sage Publications.

Castilho, Kathia (2006), Moda e linguagens, São Paulo, Anhembi Morumbi.

Fairclough, Norman (1995), Discourse and social change, Londres, Polity Press.

Hébert, Michael (1997), La publicité est-elle toujours l’arme absolute?, Rueil-Malmaison, Liaisons.

Lendrevie, Jacques; Lindon, Denis; Dionísio, Pedro; Rodrigues, Vicente (1993), Mercator, Lisboa, Dom Quixote.

Ponte, Cristina (2004), Leituras das notícias. Contributos para uma análise do discurso jornalístico, Lisboa, Livros Horizonte.

Santos, Beja (1994), O livro dos consumidores, Venda Nova, Bertrand Editora.

Serrano, Estrela (2006), Para compreender o jornalismo, Coimbra, Minerva.

Wolf, Mauro (1992), Teorias da comunicação, Lisboa, Editorial Presença.

Windows of opportunity for sustainable consumption: The de-routinization effect of life events Melanie Jaeger and Martina Schaefer

Consumption is embedded in a system of daily routines, habits and rituals that, on the whole, serves as a relatively well-functioning response mechanism to individual, social and societal demands, assuring continuity as well as identity. Sudden changes in consumption patterns can be seen as a threat to the continuous fulfillment of everyday requirements, making attempts towards trying to motivate sustainable consumption a difficult task. Life events such as the birth of a child or relocation challenge everyday routines, requiring adaptation to a new situation and new demands.

This process of adaptation is investigated through problem-centered interviews with persons who have recently moved or had their first child. Narratives about the life event itself as well as daily consumption in the fields of energy, nutrition and mobility have been examined, focusing on processes of familiarization in the changed situations, appropriation of space, newly evolving needs and demands as well as efforts made to fulfill them. Besides developing models of how life events change consumption patterns, this study attempts to discover starting points for interventions promoting more sustainable consumption.

The research to be presented is part of the “Life events as windows of opportunity for change towards sustainable consumption patterns” project, which is funded by the Social-ecological research program of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.


Melanie Jaeger & Martina Schaefer

Center for Technology and Society

Berlin Institute of Technology

Sekr. ER 2-2

Hardenbergstr. 36a

D-10623 Berlin



Making a difference in the learning process

Aloida Jurcenko, Inese Patapova, Zenija Truskovska and Velta Lubkina

Rezekne Higher Education institution



As a result of the rapid progress of information technologies the globalization processes, imbalance of growing social, economic and ecological systems destructively influence everything: the lifestyle of individuals, life quality and individuals’ life in general. This influence changes the manner of living for both the rich and the poor.

A scientifically based sustainable national development conception is elaborated in order to provide the same level of human development opportunities for the next generations as we have for our generation but not creating economic, social and ecological debts, which next generations would have to pay. It is based on the principle that any nation can develop in the present and in the future only by maintaining and renewing the environment in which it is living. Though the tendencies observed in the modern consumer society are contrary to the requirements set by the sustainable national development conception.

The authors’ theoretical research is concentrated on the issue what the possibilities exist for the development of comprehension of the new generation in the educational process encouraging young people choosing a sustainable lifestyle.

The necessity to introduce corrections into the organization and development of the curriculum comes forward in the context of balanced survival and desirable life quality, which are based on the opinion that is implemented into the International report “Education in the 21st Century”, which activates learning to be (involving learning to know or to obtain the sources of understanding), learning to do, which involves the ability to collaborate creatively with the surrounding world and learning to live together, which in its part involves the ability to live by participating and collaborating with other people in all spheres of human activities.


The aim of the theoretical research is to study theoretical literature and regularities among sustainable society development and requirements set for education in the 21st century. The aim of the practical research is to ascertain the life skills of the youth contributing to sustainable development.

1. The Definition of the Sustainable Development Concept

A sustainable or balanced development concept appeared for the first time in Bruntland Commission Report to the United Nations. This concept gained its popularity and topicality after the meeting of the leaders of the world countries in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, where 179 leaders signed the agreement on the Action program in the 21st century known as “Agenda - 21” (www.bvs.parks.lv).

Proper comprehension of the concept “sustainable development” is essential as currently it is diverse in the society. The authors of the research offer the summary of sustainable development definitions in the table below (see Table No. 1).

Table No. 1

Interpretation of Sustainable Development Definitions


Interpretation of the definition

Notes, keywords

Sustainable development policy and guidelines, 2006

Sustainable development is integrated and balanced development of welfare, environment and economics that fulfill current social and economic needs of inhabitants and ensure observation of environmental requirements not endangering the possibilities of fulfilling the needs for the next generations and ensuring the preservation of biological diversity.

Welfare, environment, economics, requirements, development, needs.

Sustainable development policy and guidelines, 2006

Development that ensures satisfaction of the needs today, not causing risks for the opportunities of the next generations for satisfying their needs.

Development, needs, generations, risks.

Sustainable development policy and guidelines, 2006

Sustainable development is an integrated conception that involves all actions of people on the local level:

  • aiming to improve the life quality of both current generation and next generations, simultaneously preserving and protecting the possibility of land to ensure life in all its diversity;

  • basing on democracy, law, power and respect towards the fundamental rights and freedoms of people including equal opportunities and cultural diversity;

  • stimulating a high degree of employment development in economy, whose power is based on education, innovations, social and economic cohesion, people’s health and nature protection.

Conception, human activity, generations, life quality, preservation of life, fundamental rights of people, freedom, opportunities, culture, employment, economy, education, innovations, health, nature.

E. Kušners, Latvia’s society participation project

“Latvia 2030. Your Choice” Zemgale Forum in Jekabpils

Sustainable development is not simply increase of welfare, but preservation of existing resources as long as possible.

Welfare, resources.


Regional Environmental Centre – project for sustainable development of schools in the Baltics 2001 – 2003

The usage of natural resources increases along with the growth of the living standard of inhabitants. It may lead to the exhaustion of natural resources. In order to prevent this situation, strengthening of environmental awareness is necessary.

Living standard, natural resources, raw materials, comfort, environmental awareness.

Summing up and analyzing the literature about the definition of the sustainable development concept it can be assumed that:

  • Sustainable development is defined also as the development of the education process, conception, human activity, life quality, welfare, preservation of resources;

  • Several generations of people participate in the sustainable development process;

  • The aim of the sustainable development process is to facilitate common welfare of society and to provide the opportunities of the humanity to live in healthy environment implementing its own potential and abilities.

2. Theoretical Research Results

Sustainable development involves 3 dimensions:

  • Environment – it has necessary basis for sustainable development. The ecosystem currently is endangered by human actions. Satisfaction of current needs at the same time decreasing contagion of human activities is great challenge and needs new ideas.

  • Economy – an instrument by which it is possible to achieve sustainable development. Economic prosperity is a very significant tool of sustainable development as it helps to put down poverty, to finance recovery of economy, to carry out changes in our development etc. Though economic growth not always means the improvement of sustainable development. Only such economic growth, which does not produce a negative influence on environment, is supportable as a part of sustainable development.

  • Social dimension – an aim, which implies provision of sufficiently good life for both current and next generations. Sustainable development can be ensured by the support of civic society. (Our Common Future; The Brundtland Commission, 1987).

Respectively civic education is necessary in order to achieve the aim. It begins in the family and continues at school.

Theoretical approaches were studied in order to find the answer to one of the most topical questions of modern education, how to make use of current experience more effectively in order to make civic education a useful tool for making the future:

  • Professor Roberts Ķīlis’ approach “We have to do something in order to control consumption and overconsumption. The consuming approach towards the resources is opposed by more sustainable and healthier lifestyle. (Society participation project “Latvia 2030. Your Choice” Latgale Forum in Daugavpils).

  • Capital of Latvia’s sustainable development is people, their abilities, knowledge, talents, nature and location of Latvia, ability to collaborate and to do together the things that cannot be done individually (Sustainable development policy and guidelines, 2006).

  • When carrying out civic education in the family, at school, in the society it is very significant to allow everyone thinking about one’s own personal participation in activities, which influence social, economic, political and environmental situations that become the causes of poverty and create obstacles for sustainable development (www.google.lv).

  • Sustainable education prepares individuals for changes and life in the society based on knowledge, which would be constructive, in which people would be able to take responsibility, in the society which is tolerant and in which the uppermost one would be an individual and not business, in which individual could feel himself economically independent and enrich his own life with capacities of his creativity and liberty to take risks using new technologies (A. Šmite, 2008). Nonetheless as proved by the research of leading countries of the world in education, today’s negations in the society and in education hinder sustainable development of education and mark crisis in education (A. Šmite, 2008). Within the framework of the school there is a possibility to implement civic education in the learning process as an intermedium of subjects; as a part of out-of-class and out-of-school activities, as an integral part of the whole school policy and culture (www.iac.edu.ls). The Committee of Regions considers that education is the element which unites three pillars of sustainable development – development of economy, environmental protection and society development. Education is a precondition for the fact that an individual develops and participates in modern society as well as the preconditions of society’s development (Official Journal of the European Union, 2008).

  • Education stimulates the humanity for changes in the lifestyle. Owing to the correspondent consumer education and explanations about the advantages of sustainable development, required changes of the lifestyle have to be created so that they were more acceptable and allowed to prevent a conflict between the old lifestyle and the lifestyle considered as “convenient” and the new ways oriented towards sustainability (Official Journal of the European Union, 2008).

  • Education oriented towards sustainability is not possible without corresponding participation of teachers and academic staff, enthusiasm and encouragement of students’ skills for life. Education facilitating sustainable development is good especially for children and youth as the next generation because for them such principles would create value systems and basis of the lifestyle. Education in the sphere of sustainable development should be perceived in the family, pre-school institutions, and schools. (Official Journal of the European Union, 2008). Family plays an important role in this education process, but we have to consider that the content of life skills, attitude towards the surrounding world and its preservation are also determined by the corresponding society traditions and customs.

  • It must be admitted that the society not always comprehends the concept “sustainable development” nowadays. Therefore the Committee of Regions considers that families need consultations about the application of the sustainable development principle in daily life, because the acquisition of life skills by children is delivered basing on the feelings and practical experience (Official Journal of the European Union, 2008).

  • There are several definitions of life skills. The World Health Organization understands life skills as “an ability to act with positive behavior according to the conditions which give an opportunity for individuals to deal with daily life requirements set by life itself”. (Bluka I., Rubana I.M., 2002)

The most important skills necessary for life activities are as follows:

  • To take responsibility;

  • To comprehend and control one’s own emotions;

  • To collaborate with other people;

  • To think critically and creatively;

  • To solve problems.

  • Education institutions together with families take part in the process of acquiring life skills. The task of school in the sphere of sustainable development is to motivate students through the acquired knowledge, obtained skills and abilities to choose the sustainable lifestyle. The educational process is the most significant way for implementing such civic life values that would promote student’s comprehension about sustainable development principles (Official Journal of the European Union, 2008).

  • Sustainable school speaks about sustainable development in all subjects, encourages students to evaluate critically how different resources are used, motivates students and teachers to think locally and globally, promotes sustainable development in society and at school with the assistance of common activities:

  • stimulates students and teachers, who save resources;

  • uses the resources usefully;

  • collects paper for recycling;

  • appeals to students to evaluate their own personal actions in the usage of resources (www.bvs.parks.lv, 2008).

The measures for sustainable development to make students be able to acquire the necessary life skills, economic thinking and economy could be as follows:

    • schools of “Seasons”;

    • “Green Routes”;

    • “Open Door Days” and seminars about environmental issues;

    • courses that promoted an environment friendly attitude;

    • exhibitions;

    • “Green Hours” (monitoring of flora and fauna “mini ecosystems”, lessons of art and those of technical character using natural materials);

    • places that regularly need to be cleaned and taken care of, etc. (Official Journal of the European Union, 2008).

The research is based on the learning method offered by Dr. paed. professor I. Žogla, where a student is motivated to choose a sustainable lifestyle through the acquired knowledge and obtained skills (see Figure No. 1).

Figure No. 1Learning Model for Choosing a Sustainable Lifestyle

The figure reflects relations between the teacher and the student in the framework of the curriculum to encourage choosing a sustainable lifestyle.

3. Research Organization and Grounds

The aim of the research:to ascertain the level of the developed life skills of the youth in relation to sustainable development.

The research was carried out in 3 stages, which correspond to the model offered in Figure 1 about the choice of a sustainable lifestyle and make relations between three components offered by the model: a student, a teacher and a curriculum.

1st stage.In September 2007 the research of life skills acquisition was carried out in 2 comprehensive schools of Rezekne city and 2 of Rezekne district with participation of 35 young people aged from 12-17 years.

2nd stage.During the period of 7 months these young people were offered a life skills development program at their schools that was prepared within the framework of the project “JJJ – Youth with Insufficient Social Skills” body of education activities “Youth for Youth”.

3rd stage. By the end of acquisition of the program a repeated survey of 35 young people was carried out in order to ascertain the dynamics of life skills acquisition.

Theoretically we clarified that since social skills are a kind of skills that ensure the establishment of social relations with other people in order to achieve particular social aims, and then abilities encouraging collaboration and communication with other people are a kind of social skill.

Wherewith we can assume that life skills can be divided into 3 groups:

  1. Social skills;

  2. Skills promoting self-exploration;

  3. Problem and conflict solving skills.

These relatively divided groups of skills in their part involve some more peculiar skills. Observation of each of these skills and summarization of the results can reveal the level of life skills. Existence of particular skills can be evaluated according to the points system: 1 – skills are observed, 2 – there are skills and knowledge of using them, 3 –these skills are used daily according to a definite situation.

Social research methods were used within the research: qualitative and quantitative. From qualitative research methods observation and an interview method were used, but from quantitative research methods – asurvey method. Since quantitative methods can provide only statistical research data, the research was supplemented with qualitative methods in order to justify the results with information and verbal research data obtained in observation.

Interview – an interview of teachers and social teachers was carried out aiming to ascertain their opinions about the levels of teenagers’ life skills development and possibilities to improve them.

Survey – surveying of the youth was carried out aiming to research comprehension and view of each student to the level of life skills and abilities, their acquisition as well as to ascertain a desire to develop them. After acquisition of the program the survey was also used to compare the levels of life skills of the youth and to ascertain the dynamics of their acquisition (SDTV, 2000).

Observation – information about the group of clients is obtained immediately perceiving and registering factors that influence the observed objects (Engere L., Gleške L., Kvjatkovska L., Šulce D., 2004).

Observation was also carried out to ascertain interrelations of the youth in daily life. We can supplement already obtained information as well as gather more genuine data in general with the help of this method.

Mathematical processing of data – the method was used to sum up the gathered data, to obtain their proportion and to reflect the gathered results graphically. Pearson’s correlation coefficient formula was applied for comparison of the obtained data. The correlation coefficient is a ratio of relations between two variables.

Modelation was used to model and split the stages of the research by setting definite tasks for each stage.

4. The Results Obtained in the Research, Their Analysis and Conclusions

In the first stage of the research exploration and analysis of the situation was carried out as well as identification of problems and exploration of the necessity to search for new ways of solutions.In the second stage a life skills development program for youth within the framework of the project was offered as one of the solutions.In the third stage we ascertained whether and what dynamics has occurred, offering the youth to develop life skills by participating in the program.

In the first stage of the research in September 2007 4 respondents were interviewed: 2 social teachers and 2 teachers to ascertain the level of life skills of the youth as well as their view about its development. It was clarified that the level of the majority of the youth life skills development was average or below the average, which was indicated by their inability to solve problem situations starting with the contemporaries, frequently with teachers and quite often with parents. Low communication culture was another indicator, as well as an inability to listen to people, to accept opinions of others, an inability to accept criticism and to express it constructively. Teachers also consider that the youth have a low level of collaboration skills – to establish productive relationship, have no skills of taking responsibility for their own decisions, actions. The provided results are also approved by the information obtained in observation. The youth having unjustified reasons miss school, trespass upon their spare time, they give a way for deviant behavior - use toxic substances, namely, cigarettes, alcohol. Wherewith there is low comprehension of values, they are not established or are distorted. The reason for many problems mentioned above should be searched in the family; in mutual relations among the family members, style of upbringing, socio-economic position of the family as well as the social status, etc. The youth have no motivation to develop; it gives evidence of a shallow specter of needs. The youth do not comprehend the perspectives of the future, they live for today and waste their time unproductively. During the observation it was established that a part of the youth willingly participate in various activities intended to provide the youth skills and abilities necessary in daily life. Those activities, which seem exciting and attractive and where skills are acquired, indirectly are attended more willingly. Teachers propose to offer more time for the youth in purposeful activities aimed at the acquisition of life skills, which would allow organizing spare time of the youth more effectively.

The survey was carried out among 35 respondents – the youth provided opinion about their life skills and the possibilities of their development. The youth evaluated their social skills, self-exploration skills and problem and conflict solving skills using a 10-point system from 1 to 10 in an ascending order, where 1 – underdeveloped, 5 – averagely developed and 10 – well developed skills. The same control questions will be asked them repeatedly after 8 months, which is enough to observe the dynamics of the acquisition of life skills.

The youth consider that the acquisition of life skills in a 10-point system is average or a bit above the average. It most likely shows elevated self-esteem, inability to evaluate the situation critically.

In order to improve skills of solving conflicts, teenagers have to learn understanding himself, to analyze their own feelings and emotions, to learn regulating them, has to acquire an ability to accept other people, to evaluate critically and analyze themselves and their own activities. By analyzing oneself a person learns to comprehend others. When a person realizes own needs and is able to evaluate own strengths and weaknesses as well as is aware of own resources, able to regulate own emotions and to express own feelings, can listen other people and respect opinions of others and finally has an interest to collaborate – positive communication is established. The authors of the research are certain that the development of these given skills has to be noticed in work, first of all with the youth although they are important in all age groups. Since all of us live in society, everyone tries to establish relations with other people, and the higher the development of these skills, the more successful the socialization process that lasts a lifetime would be. This skill is a precondition for a harmonic personality.

Conclusions: In the first stage of the research the problem was identified – the level of the youth life skills is average or low; in youth’s opinion it is average and a bit higher than average; 2) the way of solving the problem – organization of a life skills development program for youth.

The second stage of the research: October 2007 – May 2008

35 respondents of the research – the youth from 2 comprehensive schools of Rezekne city and 2 schools of Rezekne district were offered an opportunity to participate in the life skills development program, which was organized within the framework of ESF supported project “JJJ – Youth with Insufficient Social Skills”, its measures “Youth for Youth”, its activities for the social teacher’s work. The youth worked in groups, as communication in a group of peers was essential and natural for the youth at this age. A group is natural environment for the acquisition of life skills: interaction with peers occur in the group with a common aim and a common activity, the group is a place where new experience can be acquired, the most significant issues can be discussed, such significant skills as communication and establishment of relationship, critical, creative thinking skills, emotions and stress management skills, decision making skills, taking responsibility and skills of solving problem situations and conflicts as well as many more practical skills are acquired. The offered program was implemented with the youth – specially trained managers, in the given case the interviewees were special education teachers and comprehensive school teachers.

Third stage of the research.In May 2008 arepeated survey was carried out. The same 35 respondents were surveyed to ascertain the level of the acquisition of life skills of the given youth after the acquisition of the development program (see Tables No. 2, 3).

Table No. 2

Life skills

Kind of skills

Average assessment in points

Before the program

After the program

Collaboration with others

1. Skills of establishing relationship



2. Skills of regulating emotions



3. Communication with others



Communicative skills

4. Skills to reach a compromise



5. Skills to accept and express criticism



Self-exploration skills

6. Accepting the role of the external image and gender of oneself



7. Preparation for a professional career



Problem and conflict solving skills

8. Decision making skills



9. Time and work planning skills



10. Practical skills of life



Table No. 3

Groups of life skills

Group of skills

Average assessment in points

Before the program

After the program

Collaboration skills



Communicative skills



Self-exploration skills



Problem and conflict solving skills



The obtained data were summarized by calculating the average assessment according to kinds of skills and groups of skills (see Figures No. 2, 3). Pearson’s correlation coefficient formula was applied in order to compare the levels of life skills development before and after the acquisition of the program. The correlation coefficient is a ratio of relations between two variables.

In the given case the correlation coefficient shows that the coherence between the obtained data is tight: correlation coefficient – 0.827330147. With the help of correlation coefficient the relation between the level of the youth life skills before participation in the program and after its implementation was determined.

The obtained results of the survey basing on the youth’s opinion with certainty show the dynamics in the acquisition of the youth life skills. It allows considering that in the next generation the system of values and sustainable lifestyle choice will develop these life skills.

Within the framework of the given program behavior correction, self-respect and self-esteem development were carried out along with the development of life skills.


  1. The launched work with the youth needs to be continued in order to make these life skills lasting as they need time, consolidation and strengthening in similar programs and activities of different types.

  2. It is necessary to carry out the training of social teachers and general teachers so that they could implement such and similar life skills acquisition programs for the youth, as well as to become moderators for other teachers.

  3. It is necessary to find an opportunity to elaborate new programs for the acquisition of life skills for the youth having different levels of the acquisition of life skills.


  1. Bluka I., Rubana I. M. Dzīves prasmju apguve skolā [Acquisition of Life Skills at School]. Methodological aid. – R.: Preses nams, 2002.- 41 p.

  2. Official Journal of the European Union, 2008.

  3. Engere L, Gleške L., Kvjatkovska I., Šulce D., Lomu spēles sociālā pedagoga darbībā [Role Plays in the Work of a Social Teacher]. SDSPA „Attīstība”, 2004.

  4. Sustainable development policy and guidelines, 2006.

  5. Kušners E., Latvia’s Society participation project “Latvija 2030. Tava izvēle.” [Latvia 2030. Your Choice] Zemgale Forum in Jēkabpils.

  6. Ķīlis R., Latvia’s Society participation project ”Latvija 2030. Tava izvēle.” [Latvia 2030. Your Choice] Latgale Forum in Daugavpils.

  7. Šmite A, Ilgtspējīga izglītība attīstībai: kursu materiāli [Sustainable Education for Development: course materials], 2008.

  8. www.bvs.parks.lv, 2008.

  9. www.google.lv, 2009.

  10. www.iac.edu.lv, 2009.

  11. www.reclatvija.lv Regional Environment Centre: Project for Sustainable Development of Schools in the Baltics 2001 – 2003.

  12. Our Common Future: The Brundtland Commission, 1987.

Consumer Citizenship Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education in Latvia

Inese Jurgena and Zigurds Mikainis

Inese Jurgena, University of Daugavpils



Kooperatīva 6a-9, LV- 1067, Riga, Latvia

Zigurds Mikainis, University of Rezekne



Dzelzcela iela 19, LV – 1058, Riga, Latvia


Preparing citizens for the life in their own country, in the European Union, and in the world is a significant task of the system of higher education.

Citizenship education plays an essential role within the context of the economic and social development in Europe. Besides, a considerable attention is devoted to it in the discussions concerning the development of knowledge-based society in Europe.

The importance of citizenship education was also emphasized in the Bologna process (2000), where principal guidelines for higher education were determined; it is also an integral part of the European Strategy of Lifelong Learning and the European Youth Policy. It should be noted that the European Commission document a New Impulse for the European Youth (1991) highlighted new forms of the European governance based on youth autonomy and active participation of citizens, while the White Paper defined openness, participation, responsibility, effectiveness, and coordination as the principles of good democratic governance (White Paper, 1998).

The concepts of “the citizen” and “the consumer” dominate major discourses on citizenship and consumption. Consumer citizenship is one such concept that has emerged in the contemporary world. Consumer citizenship can be seen as one important step in a process of sustainable development.

Consumer citizenship is an essencial element of liberal education and is part of the on-going values debate, which institutions of higher education also participate in, to define the “quality of life.” Consumer citizenship education encompasses knowledge and skills needed to became independent, critical and aware consumer citizens (Guidelines, 2005: 11).

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) declared as its most important First Principle that “human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to healthy and productive life in harmony with nature” (/education/) This principle assumes that humans themselves are responsible for the conservation, protection, and care of the environment. That was a serious warning that the modern society is not sustainable, and the modern society is responsible for that.

The 59th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2005 reaffirmed the need to ensure a balance between economic development, social development, and environmental protection as interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development. After Johannesburg World Summit, the United Nations Economic and Social Council outlined educators’ role as a key factor for sustainable development (Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002).

Thus, the actualization of consumer citizenship education is an important function of higher education with a significant moral, political, and legal capacity as it ensures the formation of the citizenship identity and consumer citizenship competency of would-be specialists within the context of sustainability.

In Latvia, the system of higher education, which undergoes continuous development, is one of the opportunities for introducing change. The potential of higher educational establishments, their resources and capacity in implementing educational reforms (UNESCO, 2005) ensure the development of an institution promoting sustainable development. Academic professionals striving to introduce changes play a key par there involving students in this process as well. Thus, reforms are promoted in a direct way, based on the experience of the participants, active operation, reflection, and formation of the new systems of reference.

The purpose of the article is to analyse the experience of consumer citizenship education in Latvian higher education within the context of sustainable development emphasizing the role of various forms of studies.

The Shared Values of Consumer Citizenship and Sustainable Development

Generally, citizenship education is underpinned by the principle of rights, responsibilities, and participation within a democratic society. It is determined by the particular role of citizens and the specific importance of citizenship in the democratic society. Citizenship characterises the desirable actions of citizens referring to democracy as well as their citizenship virtues.

It has to be noted that the list of citizenship virtues is very extensive nowadays. Along with the readiness to participate actively in the social life and protect the democratic system of the state, it also includes readiness to call into question the actions of the authorities, to take part in discussing serious issues, to take into account opponents’ views, to substantiate one’s attitudes, and to respect other people’s rights.

In general sense, the outcomes of consumer citizenship education could be defined as: - knowledge of one*s rights and responsibilities as citizens, consumers and workers;

- skills to function as informed and reflected consumers citizens;

- socially responsible behaviour including:

< critical awareness;

< action and involvement;

< social and ecological responsibility;

< global solidarity (Guidelines, 2005: 26).

Similarly, education for consumer citizenship and sustainable development also includes responsibilities, rights, democratic practices and values, and understanding of the interdependence between all aspects of our societies.

There are rights and duties in the centre of the concept of consumer citizenship. The concept of the consumer citizenship demonstrates that consumers obtaining themselves with goods and services will act responsibly. It includes assuming the responsibility both in global and regional, as well as national and local level.

Responsibility is the pulse of human society. It is stimulated by vision, set in motion by awareness, realised through action and regulated by inner values, social norms, and/or legal criteria. There are no simple definitions of responsibility. Responsibility is based on complex processes of initiatives, reactions, interventions and revisions. When considering the question of what constitutes consumer citizenship, it is necessary to first reflect upon the existing explanations of responsibility, subsequently to analyze (briefly thought it be) the present distribution of responsibility, and then to contemplate which modifications appear necessary in order to contribute, individually and collectively, to more sustainable human development ( Thoresen, 2005: 18) .

Besides economical, political and ethical consciousness, education for consumer citizenship welcomes ecological consciousness (Hernandez, 2004). Thus, citizenship education for sustainable development (CESD) fosters competencies that are part of citizenship education, and it can be integrated into a wide range of curricula.

Clearly, consumer citizenship education plays an important role in ensuring the stability and sustainable development of any society.

Imbued in the notion of consumer citizenship are the various constructions of consumerism and various notions of citizenship. The scope of consumer citizenship has expanded greatly in recent years. Some researchers even argue that a clear distinction between citizen and consumer roles in public life is increasingly difficult to establish (Scammel, 2000). Consumer citizenship thus goes beyond “the rights of people to be provided with appropriate goods, services and information by both the private and public sectors” (Stevenson, 1997). It also includes social responsibility and the participation of citizens in the public sphere. Consumption is presented not as an option, but as a duty and responsibility of consumer citizen (Zukin S., Maguire, S., 2004). Consumer citizenship education promotes active, rational, and responsible actions of young specialists and their participation in the implementation of democratic values.

Doubtless, an institution of higher education is an environment where it is possible to cognize, develop and promote critical, responsible, and responsive consumer citizenship. This should be particularly emphasized even if citizenship education is a highly contested and complex issue, difficult to define and fraught with difficulties (Bauer et al, 2003).

R. Kroflik (2004) argues that to prepare young people for life in social reality, citizenship education should be underpinned by the focus on the common core values of coexistence. Values such as respect, honesty, self-esteem, trust, courage, and equity would be typical core values, which could be fostered in higher education through different courses. The transmission of such values presupposes a creative environment in the institution of higher education, based on the democratic decision making processes and discussions.

Thus, it can be concluded that the link between citizenship education and education for sustainable development is ensured by the recognition of common values that promote both citizenship and ethical sustainability, focusing on the close link between various values, human life and the environment. From the perspective of sustainable development, there is a need to move from utilitarian and instrumental approaches and towards higher order values of respect and solidarity with the oneness of mankind and nature that supports ecosystems, equitable societies, and a more viable world.

In 1991, the World Conservation Union offered the content formulation of the values discussed above as the principles of sustainable living:

  • Respect and care for the community of life

  • Improving the quality of human life

  • Conserving the earth’s vitality and diversity

  • Minimising depletion of non-renewable resources

  • Keeping within the earth’s carrying capacity

  • Changing personal attitudes and practices enabling communities to care for their own environments

  • Integrating development and Conservation

  • Creating a global alliance. (Mulcahi, Tutiauks – Guillon, 2005: 6)

These principles have an important role referring to the sustainable development of citizenship education. An interesting complex diagram of the values of sustainable development has been offered in the academic literature (Figure No 1).

(Mulcahi, Tutiauks – Guillon ,2005,5)

This diagram clearly suggests that sustainable development is a matter of political choice and it comprises various social, legal, economic, and cultural elements. Principle 10 of Agenda 21 also sets out that environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned individuals, i.e. citizens have right to receive information on environmental issues and to have opportunities to participate in the decision-making process.

Throughout Agenda 21, there are also references to the eradication of poverty as an indispensible requirement for sustainable development. It underlines the need to achieve sustainable development and higher quality of life through the reduction and elimination of unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and through the promotion of appropriate demographic policies.

Obviously, the connection between values, human life and the environment is best revealed in the process how people use the environment, manage, protect, admire, worship, and respect it. Hernandez (2004) points to values that can be developed through the study of citizenship and the environment in a scientific perspective. She distinguishes values involved in the search for information, specific values for environmental education, and personal values.

It has to be pointed out that it is even more important to ensure that the principles underpinning CESD were included in all courses of studies and could become an integral part of higher education.

Learning methodologies used in the process of studies should encourage the transmission of various core values through the creation of space for debate, discussion, sharing of ideas, creative problem solving, working in teams, thus developing critical thinking skills enabling future consumer citizens to live in the real environment away from the protection of the safety of the higher educational establishment.

In authors’ view, in Latvia the practical integration of the above mentioned triad – knowledge, skills, and citizenship attitudes is shown most clearly in connection with the issues concerning the education of the teachers of social sciences.

A few issues concerning the education of the teachers of social sciences in Latvia within the context of consumer citizenship education for sustainable development.

In Latvia, particular attention is devoted to the consumer citizenship education of the teachers of social sciences within the context of sustainability, their training for constructive cooperation both in the local and the European context. In the pedagogic aspect, the task of consumer citizenship education is to develop an active personality, capable of functioning in a free civil society.

At present, the second level professional study programmes in teacher education have been designed according to the provisions of the Education Law, the Law on Higher Education Establishment, the Constitutions of higher educational establishments, and other normative acts, as well as the Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers No 347 “Regulations on the Requirements Concerning Teachers’ Education and Professional Qualifications” and No 481 ‘Regulations on the National Standard of the Second Level Professional Higher Education” (www.likumi.lv) , and according to the Direction No 405 of the Ministry of Science and Education of 10.07.2000 “On the professional Standard – a Teacher of Social Sciences” (Professional Standard, 2002).

The purpose of the study programmes is to provide opportunities for the acquisition of professional higher education and obtaining the qualification of a teacher of social sciences, to train teachers for teaching social sciences at schools, thus ensuring their competitiveness in the labour market.

This can be ensured by offering a set of theoretical courses referring to social sciences – economics, ethics, health education, and consumer citizenship education. A particular attention is paid to the teaching methodology in social sciences and offering topical courses promoting students’ professional development and enhancing their consumer citizenship competencies, as well as developing students’ critical thinking skills and understanding of the diverse values necessary for living in a civil society with a good democratic political system. There should also be provided opportunities for applying the acquired theoretical knowledge, skills, and professional attitudes in the pedagogic practice, involving students in tackling practical tasks (conducting classes, participation in projects, research, etc.).

As regards consumer citizenship education, in the recent years in Latvia there has been more emphasis on motivating students for life-long learning, so that teachers themselves would be able to advance their knowledge in social sciences and evaluate new information and its correspondence to the requirements of modern science and the needs of the educational process within the context of active European citizenship.

When comparing the study programmes of the second level professional higher education offered in various institutions of higher education in Latvia - the University of Latvia (UL), Rezekne Higher Education Institution (RHEI), and Daugavpils University (DU) - the course descriptions available in the accreditation documents of the Higher Education Quality Evaluation Centre (HEQEC) (www.aiknc.lv), as well as the reports of the accreditation committees and self- evaluation reports, it has to be noted, first of all, that courses concerning citizenship education and consumer education problems provided in the curricula of various institutions are different and unique. Generally, all these study programmes provide an opportunity to understand the basic elements of a democratic society and clarify what it means to be an active consumer citizen in a democratic environment within the context of sustainability.

The authors of the article have to note that there is no single best way how to integrate the content of consumer citizenship education for sustainable development in one particular course or study programme.

All in all, it can be concluded that the theoretical basis of professional education is formed in all teacher training programmes in social sciences by four important blocks: citizenship education, economic education, ethical education, and health education. Thus, curricula offered in various institutions of higher education generally consolidate theoretical knowledge in economics, political science, philosophy, law, ethics, etc helping students to combine their understanding of democracy with a democratic approach towards tackling the consumption aspects issues as well.

It should be pointed out that integration of various kinds of knowledge and the versatility of knowledge within the framework of common vision is of particular importance.

Such approach to consumer citizenship education regarding the aspect of sustainability also ensures its transversal role and interdisciplinary character.

Interrelationships in the content of core theoretical courses offered in the 2nd level professional higher education program ‘A Teacher of Social Sciences’ can be seen in the following diagram:

( RHEI accreditation Materials, www.aiknc.lv)

The accreditation materials available to the authors show that the forms of work and teaching methodologies used in the process of studies are not only the traditional ones: lectures, seminars, practical, classes, but also those which promote students’ participation: project work, discussions, case studies, the analysis of documents, and research. Students are encouraged to make public presentations concerning the results of their work, do self-evaluation, reflect on their own identity, express a critical attitude, and explain concepts. Various courses include seminars aimed at the development of the skills of democratic cooperation, accepting or clarifying their point of view.

Many of these techniques reflect the humanistic tradition in higher education. This approach is essential as the students need not only to be actively involved in their studies, but also to acquire methodologies which they will have to use when teaching social sciences at school. The future teachers, both as citizens and educators, have to adapt and develop new approaches which will enable them to get involved reflectively and critically in the fundamental social transformations. Therefore, during the pedagogic practice, which takes place after the acquisition of basic theoretical courses students can:

  • consolidate their skills in planning, organising, and assessing the integration between the educational content in social sciences and the process of upbringing, to learn the experience of a particular school and teacher, to analyse topical problems,

  • gain a deeper insight into the schools of various types, problems encountered by the teachers of social sciences and their solutions,

  • consolidate skills necessary for integrated learning of social sciences and working in a team of teachers; gain understanding on the necessary areas of self-development and the possibilities to implement it.

Generally, it can be concluded that the acquisition of consumer citizenship education in various Latvian institutions of higher education takes place concurrently with the formation of the motivational attitude of students. While studying the offered courses, students acquire theoretical knowledge and practical skills, as well as realise their self-determination in accordance with the professional qualification of a teacher of social sciences.

The participants of the programme are focused on the acquisition and using of new teaching methodologies; however, insufficient level material of material and technical provisions is a serious obstacle. It does no allow the academic staff and the students to fully use computer technologies, multimedia, and the internet, which would enhance the acquisition of the content of studies and its quality.


Consumercitizenship education plays a significant role in ensuring the stability and sustainable development of a society. It promotes active position of young specialists and their rational and responsible participation in the implementation of democratic sustainable values.

Higher education ensures the intellectual potential of the society and trains new specialists who develop and consolidate consumer citizenship values in the pedagogic process.

Consumer citizenship education for sustainable development is an important function of higher education with a significant moral, social, political, and legal capacity. It promotes the consolidation of the principles and values of ethics, responsibility, law and participation in the democratic society.

Consumer citizenship education for sustainable development comprises essential fundamental values and understanding about the mutual dependence and interconnectedness of all aspects of social life. Consequently, it also ensures the formation of consumer citizenship competencies of future specialists.

In Latvia, consumer citizenship education can be acquired as an interdisciplinary system. This process is implemented in the context of changes and development, i.e. in a constructive context.

The analysis of the curricula offered by various institutions of higher education in Latvia shows that they provide most directly the development of the citizenship identity of future teachers of social sciences, the acquisition of the fundamental principles of a democratic society and the key values of the Latvian state and society, as well as the upbringing of competent young consumer citizens.

The Latvian experience shows that the goals and objectives of consumer citizenship education are focused on training young specialists possessing broad professional knowledge, developed critical thinking, ability to organise and manage work in a modern way, understanding of the ethical civic and patriotic values, as well as ability and skills to engage in various social activities.

The link between consumer citizenship education and sustainable development is ensured by shared common values, which reveal the sense and importance of both consumer citizenship and ethical sustainability.

The assumption that various transversal and interdisciplinary approaches play a key role in consumer citizenship education of future specialists is offered for discussion. These approaches make it possible to develop the multi-scale thinking of future specialists and enhance their ability to analyse critically the main dilemmas created by the processes of social, legal, environmental, and economic development.


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Social Sciences’ 2003 - 2006; - www.aiknc.lv

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Education in Europe. - London: CiCe.

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Education Today: thoughts and proposals for its articulation, in A. Ross, ed, The

Experience of Citizenship. – London, CiCe, p. 140 - 144.

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stake? The contribution of scientists to the debate, Ministere des affaires

entrangeres, direciton de la cooperation scientique et de la recherche, 2002 .

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Ethical Theories and Pedagogical Concepts, in A. Ross, ed, The Experience of

Citizenship, CiCe: London, p. 140 - 144.

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Sustainable Development. – London, CiCe, p.6.

7. Professional Standard. (2002) Direction No 405 of the Ministry of Education and

Science of 10 June, 2002.

8. RL Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No 347. „Regulations on the Requirements

Concerning Teachers’ Professional Education and Professional Qualifications”; -


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on the National Standard of the 2nd Level Professional Higher Education”; -


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Citizen Consumer. Political Communication 17, p. 351- 355.

11. Stevenson, N., (1997). Globalization, national cultures and cultural citizenship.

The Sociological Quarterly, 38, p. 41-46.

12. The White Paper (1998). On General and Professional Education. Teaching and

Learning towards the Learning Society. Brussels: Commission of European

Community, 29.11.1995.

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responsibility. CCN conference proceedings. – Bratislava, 2005, p. 18- 25.

14. Thoresen Victoria W. (2005). Consumer Citizenship Education. Guadelines.

Vol. 1, Higher Education. The Consumer Citizenship Network. 2005, p. 11.

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Vol. 1, Higher Education. The Consumer Citizenship Network. 2005, p. 26.

16. UNESCO (2005) Guidelines and Recommendations for Reorienting Teacher

Education to Address Sustainability. Education for Sustainable Development in

Action. – Technical Paper No.2, October 2005.

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Sociology, vol. 30.

18. /education

Marketing Communication to and with Net Citizens: Targeting by Means of a Social Network Analysis Approach

Martin Klaus, Jörg Schwerdtfeger & Ralf Wagner




SVI Endowed Chair for International Direct Marketing

DMCC – Dialog Marketing Competence Center

University of Kassel

Mönchebergstr 17, D-34125 Kassel, Germany

Empirical investigations of the time devoted to Internet interactions indicate that this time surpasses the time spent passively watching TV. This provides marketers with new communication opportunities: First, the WWW is becoming progressively more important in the media world in relation to the phenomenal speed at which it is growing. Even more important, and in contrast to TV-recipients, net citizens are not passive, but explore information actively, choose by themselves the contents that are interesting and sift out less relevant contents and communication partners. They are not restricted to just receiving companies’ marketing communication, but can interact with both vendors and other customers in real time and leave their individual opinions, recommendations and reports on experiences with products and services in newsgroups and blogs. These information and communication fragments could remain for years in the virtual environment. Thus, for marketers, it is one of the major issues to identify individuals who are willing to engage in a positive communication process and potentially persuade other individuals to join this communication and share their opinions.

In this study, we introduce an approach for marketing communication on MySpace online communities. For targeting individuals, we consider the users’ position in the information space by means of social network analysis. We develop four different marketing options for advertising on MySpace. As an illustration, we outline these marketing options using the example of a fictive product launch campaign.


Track Indication: Track 3: Co-Operating for Consumer Citizenship.

1. Introduction

The spread of broadband connections, the ever increasing use of the Internet and the new, consumer-generated content of the Web 2.0 make the Internet more challenging for marketers than ever. In 2008, spending on Internet marketing exceeded that of classic TV marketing for the first time (BWT, 2008). Most of the budget on Internet marketing comprises: spending on corporate home pages, banner, pop-ups and e-mail marketing, but online communities also attract the interest of marketers. Online communities deliver two main categories of information. First, they usually include some attributes about their user, such as a name or a nickname, age, origin, preferences and others. Second, they include an interactive social network between the actors, where the users are the knots, and their connections to friends are the ties. The combination of the information of the network and the attributes can be used to identify a very specific target group of users which are promising in terms of their position in the social network, and seem to fit the product by their attributes.

For this paper, we chose the MySpace online community as a database for research because the community is open and freely accessible to everyone without a registration and login. The MySpace community comprises 118 million users in 17 different countries (Stelter, 2008), the largest online network on which users can create their own profiles with their own content (text, pictures, movies and other applications, particularly widgets like calendars, clocks, or counters) and publish according to their own design.

MySpace, like many other online communities, gives companies the opportunity to set up banner ads on community profiles. However, MySpace goes even further and does not present the same banner to all users and visitors. Marketers can specify their target groups according to attributes of user profiles and then select matching banner advertising to them. 2007 saw the launch of a refinement of this procedure of selecting the profiles utilizing a text mining technology for each member’s profile. Thus, in addition to the attributes, marketers can choose adequate keywords, like “gaming” or “lifestyle”, in order to select target group profiles (Stone, 2008). This is marketing from MySpace.

Another opportunity to use MySpace for marketing purposes is to do it on MySpace, which means that companies set up their own campaign profiles in the community. Up until now, MySpace has not been used very often by marketers, except by the music industry, which uses MySpace frequently to promote stars (recently, Pink and Justin Timberlake). They feature new songs, introduce new album releases, announce tour dates, and stay in contact with fans. Competing with established labels, young, independent, ambitious musicians and bands use MySpace to increase their popularity.

However, possibilities to individualize the marketing measures in online communities like MySpace are not currently fully exploited. This paper aims to:

  • Introduce a procedure to get involved with target groups of net citizens more efficiently than they do currently.

  • Our procedure relies on the distinction of two different qualities of information obtained from online communities:

    • the interaction structure by means of the net citizens’ networks and

    • the content provided by the individuals.

It combines quantitative assessments from Social Network Analysis (SNA) with the attributes of the MySpace profiles: In doing so, we obtain a new quality of target information to trigger individual and direct addressed marketing communication with and between community members. We demonstrate the practicability of this procedure by outlining four scenarios of enhanced marketing on MySpace.

In the following section, we provide a brief overview of previous investigations of MySpace. Subsequently, Chapter 3 introduces the dataset which we used for this study. In Chapter 4, we outline our procedure in detail and end with a table of opportunities for marketing on MySpace. Taking the example of a fictive product campaign, these opportunities, worked out as an example with all the introduced marketing options on MySpace, are adopted.

2. Related Work
Social networks have been studied for more than 50 years (e.g., Milgram, 1967), but the rise of communities in the WWW within the past ten years has increasingly drawn the attention of marketing scholars and practitioners (Zhang, Ackerman, & Adamic, 2007). The usability of already established social networks for marketing and market research, or as a supplemental instrument for sales forces, has already been investigated. Ma, Yang, Lyu, and King (2008) conclude that a heat diffusion model fits the spread of opinion in social networks better than the Bass diffusion model. Some of the most recent publications meet the claim of Subramani and Rajagopalan (2003) to overcome the limitations of descriptive accounts of particular initiatives and advice based on anecdotal evidence when considering digital word-of-mouth phenomena. Recent research focuses on quantitative measures related to the results of the activities: for instance, the adoption of new ideas, products or opinions (Cheung et al., 2008; Ma et al., 2008; De Bruyn & Lilien, 2008), the impact on purchase probabilities (East et al., 2008) and reputation-related issues (Helm, 2000; Reichheld, 2003). However, these efforts do not fully cover the antecedents of marketing activities. From a practitioner’s point of view, most interesting is the identification of net citizens, who are willing to engage in marketing communication and who are suited to spread the message over their social networks. In this vein, Subramani and Rajagopalan (2003, p. 300) already called for “an analysis of viral marketing that highlights systematic patterns in the nature of knowledge-sharing and persuasion by influencers and responses by recipients in online social networks.” Some attempts have been made at consideringour application domain of the MySpace network: Dwyer, Hiltz, and Passerini (2007) analyzed related issues using a small sample of 100 MySpace citizens. The revelation of personal information on MySpace has recently been investigated by Hinduja and Patchin (2008). Caverlee and Webb (2008) analyzed, in a large-scale study, the observations and implications for the social network behind MySpace. However, these studies are restricted either to:

  • considering social demographic variables and their relation to digital communication behavior


  • position in the communication net.

To enhance a comprehensive understanding, both aspects need to be integrated in the analysis framework.

3. Data
For this study, both the interaction structure and content provided by the individual net citizens were crawled for 19,477 profiles on the MySpace platform in May 2008 using the SocSciBot software (provided by Thelwall, 2004) in a two-step approach. First, the network structure between a subset of relationship-based MySpace profiles were backed up. In other words, all best friends listed on the welcome page, which can be prearranged by the author of the profile, were followed through the MySpace communities to receive the friendship network of the 19,477 MySpace citizens. Second, attributes which also appeared on a profile’s welcome page were crawled. The attributes – friends, age, page type, gender, privacy, origin, marital status, religion, sex, last login, number of comments, and “here for” – were collected and saved for all the citizens.

Assessing these data revealed that 98% of all profiles were quite active. Their last log-in was within the last month. Only about 50% of the profiles revealed their age, and from those who did, about 56% were under 30 years old. The age distribution was right skewed: 76% of the citizens were under 40 years old. Half of the profiles were musicians and the other half were various citizens. The gender was balanced within the MySpace community and the majority did not acknowledge the motivation (“here for”) for engaging in this community. An impressive 87% of all citizens in our sample kept their content public for everybody. Just 13% kept their profile private for them and their friends only. In summary, the descriptive assessment our data match the descriptions of the community at hand in recent publications. Thus, we expect our sample to match the tendencies outlined by Thelwall (2008a), Caverlee and Webb (2008) and Hinduja and Patchin (2008).

Analysis of the friendship structure is likely to reveal important hints for assessing or triggering communication processes with or between citizens. This topic is of general interest, but particularly relevant for modern marketing activities.

An effective assessment of this structure is based on the tails of the link distribution. A typical phenomenon in online communities is the heavy-tail distribution of the users’ number of relations to other users. In this heavy-tail distribution, a majority of individuals have a relatively small number of out-flowing links to profiles of other users. A few users (the hubs in the informal sub-networks) have a high number of outgoing relations to other users. The function of link frequencies draws a hyperbola if the number of links is opposed to the count of the profiles which leads to a linear relation in the log-log system. However, real social networks never build a pure hyperbola because they emerge from a combination of randomly accruing links and links which accrue because of preferential attachment by the profiles (Barabasi, 2007). This log-log system can be approximated by a power function with the form (Pennock, Flake, Lawrence, Glover, and Giles, 2002):. The hyperbola approximating our data is given by with a coefficient of determination . This result indicates a substantive heavy-tailed distribution. In contrast to the studies of Pennock et al. (2002) and Karandikar (2007), we used a log-log system. Thus, the frequency is a cumulative distribution (Newman, 2004, Appendix A). We simply add -1 in the exponent to provide a suited comparison with the non-integral forms from previous studies. Our comparable result is . Social communities (like the whole Blogosphere) usually have an exponent between 1.51 and 2.12 (Karandikar, 2007). The link structure of websites is characterized by a higher exponent between 2.1 and 2.45 (Albert et al., 1999). This means that the gradient for websites is steeper than it is for social communities. According to Vazquez (2003), the interpretation of this difference is that the web is likely to grow faster than social communities. Considering the result for MySpace, the exponent is even higher than the upper limit of the interval for conventional web pages, which is about 2.45. Thus, the MySpace social community differentiates from other social communities by its dynamic gain of new citizens. It is likely to outpace the web. Therefore, the MySpace community is of particular interest for marketers. Although the MySpace community has very strong hubs, this network is more suited for direct and viral communication. Figure 1 illustrates the log-log plot of the MySpace friendship structure.

Figure 1: Distribution of the profiles ranked by their number of friends in a log-log illustration

The interesting part of the curve is the interval between 3 and 5 for the log (# of friends): Here, the curve is almost linear. Thus, the correlation between the log (# of individuals to engage in marketing communication) and the log (# of individuals reached with this communication) is almost stable. Consequently, in this network, mouth-to-mouth communication is going to reach a number of recipients described by the power law (Caverlee & Webb, 2008). Thus, marketing activities can be highly effective. Viral marketing involving community citizens is not only communication to the profile owner (e.g., an advertisement) or with the profile owner (e.g., postings, e-mail contact, bulletin), but also to all the visitors, readers and friends who look at the profile. Thus, we argue the combination of attributes and the network structure of profiles to be essential ingredients for suited targeting of modern online marketing activities.

4. Assessing the Citizens’ Network Positions
This paper faces the challenge of combining:

  • information of attributes which are frequently specified according to pre-classification schemes


  • structure information about the network and the actors.

As outlined at the end of Section 3, social networks spawn over time a couple of knots that have a high number of links and a large number of knots only have a small number of links (heavy tail). Consequently, it seems promising to identify the ones with many links to use the structural position of them as a marketing advantage. This has been done with degree, closeness and betweenness,three different centrality measures which have been proposed for the identification of “important” MySpace profiles (Everett & Borgatti, 1999). In addition, the concept of ego networks is introduced to understand the further computation.

The degree of centrality provides an impression of the structure of the network by considering the number of connections from one knot i (i = 1, … , I) to other knots j (j = 1, …, i-1; i + 1, … , I) of the network:


with k denoting the knot and I denoting the total number of knots in the network. In this study, the degree of centrality is deemed to be the dimension of possible communication activity within the network. The more links a profile has, the higher is the probability of direct communication with other profiles. Thus, we assess how applicative profiles are to start canvassing on these profiles with a high degree of centrality (Klaus & Wagner, forthcoming).

The closeness centrality provides an impression of how central a profile is in relation to others:


with d(ki, kj) denoting the number of edges between the knot pair (i, j). In our application domain, the closeness centrality is deemed to be the dimension of independence from other profiles because the closer the centrality of a profile is, the more direct connections are linked to it. So, a profile is less dependent on another profile if it has many others close by. Moreover, this measure is assessed as the efficiency of a profile in all the other knots within the network. Considering the distance from one profile to all other profiles in the graph, the closeness centrality indicates how fast a marketing communication measure could spread through the network, starting at profile i (Klaus & Wagner, forthcoming).

The betweenness centrality considers the shortest distances within the graph:


with denoting the number of geodesics and denoting the number of geodesics through . In this study, the betweenness centrality assesses the opportunities for controlling the communication process. If many shortest distances run over a profile, it has a high influence on the network communication, assuming the user usually uses the shortest way to communicate. In this way, communication from these profiles can be monitored and assessed by marketers with a view to influencing them as they wish (Klaus & Wagner, forthcoming).

Each profile is also assessed by its ego network. This comprises a single actor (ego), the actors that are connected to it (alters), and all the links among those alters (Everett & Borgatti, 2005). Thus, the larger an ego network is, the more alters it has – these alters do not know, or barley know, one another – and the more different alters are in relation to their attributes, the more powerfully this ego can distribute information.

Because of computer power and time capacity limitation, the data sample of 19,477 profiles was cut down by a requirement of the profiles to have at least four or more links to other profiles. The evolved new data sample includes 1,315 profiles which were used for the following analyses.

First, the degree-, closeness- and betweenness- centrality were calculated for every profile. In the next step, small proper intervals over the measures were built to find out how many profiles belong to each interval. In the last step, we calculated the ego networks for the cumulative sum for all intervals and analyzed what percentage of the profiles of the whole network was reached by the ego networks with direct links. Selected parts of the results are listed in Table 1 as examples.



Egos (%)

Reach the whole net

Reach the whole net (%)


















Egos (%)

Reach the whole net

Reach the whole net (%)


















Egos (%)

Reach the whole net

Reach the whole net (%)
















Table 1: Selected results of the reach build by a number profiles selected according SNA measures

Table 1 depicts three cut levels for each assessment. The upper part, referring to the degree of the profiles, shows that within the network exist 50 profiles with a degree greater or equal to 22. Using these 50 profiles as egos and analyzing their combined ego networks, these 50 profiles could reach 802 other profiles via just one direct link out of the whole 1,315 profiles. This would consist of 60.98% of the whole network. To reach near the same percentage of the network with the closeness measure, 49 profiles with closeness greater than or equal to 26 should be contacted. They reach 797 profiles with their ego networks which consists 60.61% of the whole net. Last, looking at the betweenness, it is noticeable that one could choose smaller intervals for the betweenness from 2 to 3. Here jumps the number of egos from 42 to 198 and the reached percentage of the net jumps with it from 59.05 % up to 77.11 %. However, this does not matter since we only look at a sample data analysis. For real data to be interpreted, it would be necessary to choose a smaller interval for the betweenness to have a closer look at the accession of the reached alters.

Summarizing the above results, it is possible to reach up to 60% or 65% of the whole network via just one direct link to other profiles by advertising on only 3-4% of the profiles. To achieve this result, the profiles of net citizens need to be selected carefully using the above criteria. In addition to this direct effect, the interactions of the alters enforce the communication effect. The assumption for this approach is that profiles which are connected visit or interact frequently with one another.

5. A Procedure of Putting the Results into Actions

In this section, we outline four different marketing options for advertising on MySpace, which are summarized in Table 2. In doing so, we do not consider the classic banner advertising as part of mass communication media. This is already common online marketing and is also well done by MySpace. We focus on groups, forums, company/product profile and leaving comments for direct marketing in the community. With these marketing options, each company has the possibility to build up a social community around their product and brands with direct advertising.

Marketing options


Selection criterion
for profiles


Corporate profile with bulletin and blog

Creating a company profile or product profile, which is used for advertising: e.g., Toyoto Yaris.

Centrality measures

Direct marketing with the selected profiles according to the above selection criteria over bulletins and blogs.


Discussion forum for different topics. Main focus: problem solving.

Forum topic

Participating in discussion forum with relevant topics in order to get into dialog with the discussion members.


Groups of users with similar interest. Main focus: exchange of information and opinions, communication.

Group topic

Participating in groups with relevant topics in order to get into dialog with the group members.

Leaving comments on other profiles and blogs

On any other profile or blog, a “logged-in user” can leave comments with textual or visual information about the company or product.

Centrality measures

The information of the company/product, which is posted on the predetermined profiles spread through as much as possible to the members of the ego network.

Table 2: The four marketing options for advertising on MySpace

A basic step for the implementation of marketing campaigns is defining the target group. In our application domain, we propose to include attribute-values and keywords depending on the company, brand, or product to be featured. For the forum and group marketing activities, the marketer has to choose an appropriate topic according to their company, brand, or product. The next step is calculating the centrality measures for the chosen sub network as outlined above. In addition, the ego networks need to be identified.

For marketing implementations on user profiles, all the centrality measurements and the corresponding ego networks are important. Marketers need to choose a suited set of profiles on the grounds of their degree, betweenness and closeness values. In a first step, they have to specify what percentage of the network they would like to reach. Similar to the examples depicted in Table 1, this information is used to calculate the number of egos needed to get involved to achieve the aim. In a second step, they need to specify which egos are suited for the campaign. Not only egos with a high betweenness, closeness or degree are in the relevant set, but also egos with a high betweenness, egos with a high closeness and those with a high degree are included. The adequate mix is important, but largely neglected in contemporary marketing practice. Naturally, the intersection of ego groups, scoring high in the individual criteria, makes up the relevant set. A promising avenue for future research is the adoption of classic media selection models and media budgeting procedures to this concept of marketing on online communities.

This procedure is suited to overcome the major weakness of current practices of marketing and all other attempts at triggering communication processes in social communities: selecting the profiles on the basis of a limited set of keywords. The pre-classification of keywords restricts net citizens in the expression of their interests. Moreover, users frequently do not specify all attributes (e.g., material state and sex), which might be used to cluster the profiles.

In this paper, clustering aims to identify those egos which are seldom selected on the grounds of unspecified attributes or missing keywords. In order to find structurally equivalent profiles in the sub-network, and therefore to find equivalent profiles, the MySpace dataset is segmented. Typical methods for this task include, for example, the CONCOR algorithm (Boormann & White, 1976) and an approach from Burt (1976), which is based on hierarchical clustering. However, partitional approaches like the bisected k-means (Decker & Scholz, 2007) are more suitable for the clustering of large sparse data sets because they need relatively low computational expense in contrast to the agglomerative approaches. The bisected k-means is executed with cosine similarity as a measure and the I2 criterion function, which outperforms other criteria functions discussed in the clustering literature (Zhao & Karypis, 2004). The number of clusters is determined by the stability measurement from Lange, Braun, Roth, and Buhmann (2004).

Table 3 summarizes the clustering results and gives an overview of the number, cluster size and the attribute-values, which fit around 70% of the cluster members. The largest cluster, comprising 649 profiles, consists mainly of musicians, who join the community for networking. The other three clusters, with a size of between 345 and 130, consist of normal users, for which the home country, material status and age can be specified. The attribute “here for” can only refer to the majority of the members of cluster C.


Number of profiles




American (Male and Female), Married or in a Relationship, Age: 35-50



English, Single, Male, Age:18-30



Australian, Female, here for: Networking and Friends, Age: 20-25



Musician, here for: Networking

Table 3: Clustering results for the sub-network

Even though 17% of the profiles do not specify any attributes, the clustering results show that this approach makes it possible to assign profiles with no attributes to groups with explanatory attributes. These attributes within a cluster help to pre-identify target groups to with which to communicate. A combination of the cluster analysis with the structure analysis seems to have promise for individual marketing campaigns on MySpace to communicate with its net citizens.

5. Example: Marketing Playstation IV on MySpace
The MySpace community offers companies the possibility to build up a social community around their company or brand and to get into direct dialog with the users. A fictive product launch of Playstation IV should substantiate the four marketing options for MySpace.

The marketing concept is a Playstation for the whole family: Playstation 4 ALL – Girls, Boys, Mom and Dad. The new Playstation is also a very interesting product for musicians because it can be used as a hard disk recorder for singers. For this new product, five target groups are defined with the following product focus: Boys: Age14-21, focus: Gaming. Dad: Age 21-99, focus: Gaming, media center. Girls: Age 14-21, focus: Karaoke, fitness. Mom: Age 22-99, focus: Fitness, wellness. Singer: Age 14-99, focus: Hard disk recorder for singers.

We focus on the four marketing activities summarized in Table 4. The first step is done by defining the target groups for the new Playstation campaign. Therefore, the attribute-values are known for the profile selection. Based on the clustering results at the end of Chapter 4, we take our sub-network of 1,315 profiles for an adequate pre-selection for the profiles which match the target groups. The next step is to define what percentage of the network should be reached by the marketing campaign. We define 60%. For the marketing actions “own profile” and “leaving comments”, we have to choose a suitable mix of betweenness, degree and closeness for the selection of egos and their ego network. First, we state that we want to reach 60% of the network with these direct marketing options and for each of the three centrality measurements. Table 1 shows how many egos are needed to achieve this aim: 50 egos with a degree greater than or equal to 22, 49 egos with a closeness greater than or equal to 26 and 42 egos with a betweenness greater than or equal to 2. The intersection set of these three groups of egos comprises 97 net citizens. This means that the direct marketing campaign with 97 profiles, or 7.37% of the network, can achieve more than 60% of the whole network because they are the connecters. In the course of this campaign, the mix of the three centrality measurements for the selection of the egos could be rearranged according to their main function.

  • Campaign activity (degree centrality):

    • If there is too little conversation about one’s campaign in the social community, marketers should increase the number of egos with a high degree.

    • If there is enough conversation in the social community, marketers can decrease the number of egos with a high degree; but they must keep a critical mass and change your focus on efficiency and monitoring/controlling.

  • Campaign efficiency (closeness centrality):

    • If the size of the new social community around the company/product is growing too slowly, marketers should increase the number of egos with a high closeness.

    • If the social community is growing very fast, marketers can decrease the number of egos with a high closeness; but they must keep a critical mass and change their focus on activity and monitoring/controlling.

  • Campaign monitoring/controlling (betweenness centrality):

    • in order to monitor the opinions of the members in the new social network, there have to be enough egos with a high betweenness.

    • in a critical situation, marketers should increase the number of egos with a high betweenness.

Forums and groups are selected by matching forum and group topics with suited catchwords: gaming, entertainment, music, family, hi-fi, wellness, fitness, music and recording. To promote a viral effect, a widget design – which every user could integrate in his MySpace side – would be used. It is thanks to the visual application of Playstation IV that the product is tested.



Selected attributes/ catchword/topics

Selected Structure


Corporate profile with bulletin and blog


Gender: male

Age: 22-99

Last Login: within the last month.

Page type: public







Optimal mix of betweenness, degree and closeness for the selection of egos and their ego network.

Individualized and personalized contacting within the campaign with regard to the company or product. Features: widgets, lottery, bulletin and blog.

Leaving comments on other profiles and blogs

Optimal mix of betweenness, degree and closeness for the selection of egos and their ego network.

Posting comments and e-flyer on the selected profiles and blogs. Aim: advertence, spread of information and contacting.



Supervise/participate own forums or product specific one. Aim: reply to FAQ,

deliver and inform about software/hardware updates and widgets.



Supervise/participate in own group or product specific one. Aim: information exchange and networking.

Table 4: Concretion of the four marketing options for a fictive product launch

This paper introduces a new approach to advertising on online communities, using the example of the MySpace community. The basic concept is that the target group for online direct marketing is to select the net citizens by both their specified attributes, and by their structural position in the communication network. For this purpose, we extend the methodology to reveal the systematic patterns of influencers and recipients in online social networks. Estimating the power function of link frequencies provides us with an assessment of how a network might be suited for word-of-mouth communication and viral marketing activities in combination with content. It turned out that the MySpace network was well suited. Moreover, we outlined three measures for the degree of centrality of citizens and the related interpretation. In the case of the MySpace network, it has been found that involving about 4% of the members would be sufficient to bring about 60% of all members into contact with the marketing communication. This could be illustrated with the example of a product launch campaign on MySpace. We discuss four qualities of marketing communication actions and their impact.

Finally, we propose using both the assessment of the individual’s position within the network and the net citizens’ demographic variables to identify archetypes of users on social networks such as MySpace.

Future research should compare different social communities, use even larger datasets to validate our results and test different SNA measures and methods to combine the structural information with the content. Moreover, an analytical criterion to assess the minimal percentage of the net citizens that a communicator should infiltrate is needed. Furthermore, a challenging task is to analyze how the position of a member of the social community influences the celerity of diffusion of the marketing communication.


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Everett, M. & Borgatti, S.P. (1999). The centrality of groups and classes. J. Math. Soc 23(3), 181-201.


Everett, M. & Borgatti, S.P. (2005). Ego network betweenness. Social Networks 27, 31-38.


Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J.W. (2008). Personal information of adolescents on the internet: A quantitative content analysis of MySpace. Journal of Adolescence 31(1), 125-146.

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Klaus, M. & Wagner, R. (forthcoming). Exploring the Interaction Structure of Weblogs. In: Advances in Data Analysis, Data Handling and Business Intelligence, Berlin, Springer.

Lange, T., Braun, M.L., Roth, V., & Buhmann, J.M. (2004). Stability-based validation of clustering solutions. Neural Computation 16(6), 1299-1323.

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Pennok, D., Flake, G., Lawrence, S., Glover, E., & Giles, C. (2002). Winners don`t take all:

Characterizing the competition for links on the web. Proceedings of the National Academic of

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Education for sustainable development: The case of traditional life skills among the Nama people, Namibia. Jørgen Klein

Hedmark University College


According to UNESCO indigenous knowledge systems represent an invaluable and irreplaceable resource and a critical component of sustainable development. Yet, despite their important contribution to the world cultural diversity and to the sustainable development of our planet, many of them live on the fringes of society and are deprived of basic human rights. This presentation considers a development project in Southern Namibia that seeks to include the traditional life skills of the indigenous Nama people in the formal school system. In the Traditional Life Skills Project (TLSP) parents and grandparents are teaching children some of the life skills and knowledge of the Nama people in the schools during the afternoons. Building on local resources the project aims at creating opportunities for rural people facing the challenges of limited employment opportunities, pressure from urbanization and a growing gap between generations. It is the aim that communities through the project will find pride in their own background and thereby keep the culture alive. In addition to this the project seeks to promote a creative and an entrepreneurial attitude among the learners and equip them with practical knowledge and skills as well as serving as a bridge between the formal school system and the community. The presentation will critically review the project and point at achievements and challenges the project is facing in order for it to become sustainable in the future.

Examining chosen attitudes of consumers during the 4th year of the decade for sustainable development in poland

Joanna Kostecka and Barbara Mazur

Joanna Kostecka, University of Rzeszow, Faculty of Biology and Agriculture, The Chair of Natural Theories of Agriculture and Environmental Education, 35-601 Rzeszów, ul. Cwiklinskiej 2

e-mail: jkosteck @univ.rzeszow. pl

Barbara Mazur, University of Finance and Management, Faculty of Management, the Chair of International Management,

ul. Ciepła 40, 15-472 Białystok

e-mail: bmazur@pb.edu.pl

Along with CCN activities, research was undertaken every year on topics corresponding with the subject matter of the network’s conferences.

In 2007, differences in understanding of Sustainable Development by different social groups in order to build bridges for educational activities were recognized1. In 2008, the research problem was connected with evaluation of the presence of the decade of education for sustainable development in awareness of agriculture and economy students in Poland 2.

This year, in the context of the Sixth CCN Conference: ‘Making a difference: putting consumer citizenship into action’ examining of chosen attitudes of consumers was undertaken. The questions the respondents were asked are, among others:

  1. Do you buy only those products that you really need?

  2. Do you find yourself influenced by advertisements and promotions too lightly?

  3. Do you thoroughly analyse the label of a product (the country of origin, the contents, the manufacturer)?

  4. Do you choose local stores and producers to save petrol and support local economy?

  5. Do you avoid purchasing goods from countries known for violent breaking of civil rights?

  6. Do you seek goods with Fair Trade stamps to fight slavery and exploitation in impoverished countries?

  7. Do you buy animal-tested products?

  8. Do you buy fresh, unprocessed, ecological food products?

  9. Do you choose ecological detergents to save the environment and allow environment-friendly manufacturers to prosper and invest further in clean and healthy production technologies?

  10. Do you buy products with no wrapping or with ecological wrapping?

  11. When purchasing audio-video or computer equipment, do you demant the seller to take your old one for recycling?

The picture received is a ground for diagnosing the situation of Polish consumers in the fourth year of the Decade for Sustainable Development.

Kostecka J., Mazur B., Recognizing differences in understanding of Sustainable Development by different social groups in order to build bridges for educational activities, The fourth CCN international conference: Building bridges. Stakeholder involvement & Transdisciplinary cooperation. 10-11 May 2007  Sofia University, Bulgaria  

Kostecka J., Mazur B., Evaluation of the presence of the decade of education for sustainable development in awareness of agriculture and economy students in Poland. The fifth CCN international conference: Assessing informationas consumer citizens, 5-6  May 2008, Tallinn University, Estonia

Key words: questionnaire studies, Poland, sustainable consumption


Eija Kuoppa-aho, Malin Lindquist Skogar

Eija Kuoppa-aho Consult
Nordic-Estonian working group

Malin Lindquist Skogar 
Swedish Consumer Agency 
Box 48 
651 02 Karlstad 


The Nordic consumer government agencies and organisations have col­laborated on educational issues since the 1960s. In year 2000 the Nordic Council of Ministers (Consumer Sector) published the policy docu­ment “Consumer Education in the Nordic Countries. Proposal of objectives for and content of consumer education in the compulsory school and at upper secondary school level in the Nordic countries “.  

The updated policy document has been funded by Norway and Fin­land, with expert input from Estonia, Sweden, and Denmark.

Themes and objectives for consumer education are changed as follows:

Proposal of objectives for and content of consumer education in the compulsory school and at upper secondary school level in the Nordic countries 2000

The Consumer Abilities and the themes of consumer education - 2009

Personal finances

Pupils are able to economize with resources and manage their finances

Media and technology ability

The ability to evaluate the personal choices and use of technology and media as well as the ability to act with sufficient criticism and responsibility in the modern environment, which is saturated with new innovations.

Rights and obligations

Pupils are able to make use of their rights and know their obligations as consumers

Sustainable consumption ability

The ability to evaluate the short- and long-term impacts of individual consumption and daily choices and contribute to sustainable development

Commercial persuasion

Pupils are able to cope with the commercial persuasion they are exposed to

Personal finances

The ability to obtain and use information in economic life, use resources economically, manage personal finances

Consumption, environment and ethics

Pupils are able to be able to assess the effects of their own consumption on the environment and for production/consumption in a global perspective

Consumer rights and obligations

Awareness of one's own rights and responsibilities as a consumer, and the ability to learn to assess the safety and quality of different products and services and utilize useful information such as various warnings.


Pupils are able to choose and cook nutritious food which is beneficial from an environmental point of view, and to work rationally in the home

Marketing and commercial media

The ability to participate in one's own media environment as a critical and responsible consumer and to cope with the commercial persuasion, to which each individual is exposed. 


Pupils are able to make use of product information, and to assess the safety and quality of different products

Home management and participation

The ability to manage a home and participate in an ethical and rational way in everyday life


For consumer organizations and agencies, the purpose of the documents is to contrib­ute to clarify the substance of the cooperation with international, national and local school authorities. The guidelines can also act as a tool for teaching and consumer authority co-operation, as well as clarifying and presenting the status of con­sumer education in school teaching. The document can be used e.g. to prepare teaching curricula, carry out teacher basic and continuous training and develop teaching materials. This renewed version has been especially designed to assist those preparing teaching cur­ricula, so that the core of the wide scope of consumer education is described as clearly as possible. The aim is to make the entire process clearer to grasp and to present how well consumer education contents should be included in an open teaching curriculum. At the same time, modern and activating learning methods can be described. Further more, the classification of consumer education contents can be used to carry out analyses, e.g. when comparing teaching in different countries or analyzing the implementation of consumer information teaching and the amount of consumer education in textbooks. The goals and content can also be used for material planning, in turn allowing for the main messages to be clearly defined for teaching materials or presentations.  

Consumer education is a part of the educational system. Its purpose is to provide everyone with the opportunity to obtain the basic skills needed to understand and cope with the market and to give guidance in how to maintain a sustainable lifestyle to protect privacy and foster critical thinking. Consumer education is based on values that are generally accepted in society. Local education sheds more light on the values that form the foundation of the education.

Consumer abilities are crucial for an individual who operates in the realm of the market and public services. Everyday skills such as economic skills and media literacy can be seen as areas encompassed by the concept of consumer competence. In the core of consumer competence are the empowerment of the individual and his/her role as an active citizen who can cope with various consumer environments and situations. In part, consumer abilities are seen as an area of civic skills in our information- and technology-oriented society.

Consumer abilities represent the individual's understanding of consumer rights and obligations, legislation, private economies, commercialism, and the workings of a home management as well as the role all of these things have in society and each individual's personal life. Persons with good consumer abilities possess sufficient attitudes, knowledge and skills in key areas and can apply them in practice to cope with most situations.

Everyday life is the frame of reference that learners know best. To make consumer education relevant to learners, teaching methods needs to be based on learner’s personal experiences and everyday phenomena. Consumer education encompasses attitudes, knowledge and skills connected to functioning in today’s society. It is responsibility learning which contributes to the individual’s ability to manage his own life, home and participation as well as contributing to the management of the global society’s collective life.


Qualitative study focused on young consumers’ ways of consuming in three different worlds: those of the home, school and peer groups (Phelan et al. 1993).


The Phelan model

Young people find themselves in a centre of expectations concerning consumer norms, values and beliefs from their local environment. Within the common surrounding of a larger socioeconomic community, where e.g. media plays an important part, family, peers and school sometimes have different expectations of how to act as a consumer. It is from the interrelationship of these three worlds, youths both build their own meanings and understandings of how to behave as a consumer, and develop strategies to use when moving from one context to another. 

From the pedagogical point of view it is important to renew consumer education to be based on needs of the young consumers and special features of their consuming. Content of consumer education should have better correspondence with everyday demands. It means development of curriculum and syllabus. In developing methods of consumer education learner needs and internal/non external motivations is in focus.

It is needed aims and objectives which guides from teaching bits and pieces to understanding structures and conceptual relations. Education should enhance positive motivation, foresight, systems thinking and product life-cycle consciousness. And the conception of learning should be collective in which learning is in focus.

In practice educational methods should be inspired by these conflicts of the young consumer’s everyday life. Conversation, drama, storyline, roleplay, art-pedagogy, media-pedagogy and simulation are important. Project work includes the possibility of dealing with learner-initiated issues. Practical, concrete tasks help the learners to understand the significance of consumer education. They need to be involved in the design and evaluation of activities. Further education and up-to-date information must be made easily available to the learners. More open learning environments, integrative projects and better integration between different subjects may also help to link theoretical knowledge with real life experiences.

Consumer education means taking the consumer point of view into account as a dimension in all the taught contents and subject matters, as well as the school practices. The themes of consumer education are included in the teaching curriculum goals and contents, but they are distributed inside several different subjects such as Ethics, Home Economics, Languages, Environmental Science, Social Sciences, Arts and Crafts, Natural Sciences, Psychology, Mathematics, Technology, and Media Sciences depending of education system.



Nordic-Estonian working group suggests that nationally there could be set targets according to the consumer education plan. In the plan presents actions on how to coordinate consumer education

  • in the management, teaching and maintenance activities of educational establishments

  • in supporting material for the educational institutions

  • teacher training courses supporting the construction of consumer education programs


Teaching Student teachers and high school students on Education for Consumer Citizenship in Greece

Konstantina Koutrouba, Helen Theodoropoulou and Konstadia Barda

Konstantina Koutrouba, Assistant Professor

Helen Theodoropoulou, Assistant Professor

Konstadia Barda, Doctoral Candidate

Department of Home Economics and Ecology,

Harokopio University, 70 E. Venizelou, 17671 Athens, Greece


In the frame of the Greek educational system, education for consumer citizenship is provided to thirteen-year old students who attend courses on Home Economics in Junior High School. Students’ training is focused, among others, on their acquaintance with the notion and the basic principles of consumption, primarily within the frame of family running, and, secondly, in the frame of narrower or broader social settings. Students are consequently expected to actively develop styles of mature consuming behaviour in family, school, and society.

In the Faculty of Home Economics and Ecology at Harokopio University of Athens, student teachers attend special courses on consumer citizenship and are systematically trained to use effectively alternative instructional strategies during the teaching of subject units that refer to consumer citizenship.

The present study aims at presenting, firstly, how Greek student teachers are trained through University Syllabus and Practicum in order to be qualified as educators for consumer citizenship, secondly, how they diffuse this specific knowledge to their students during their years of in-class service and, thirdly to examine the career satisfaction of the graduates of Home Economics and Ecology at Harokopio University of Athens. The result of the present study showed that the great majority of graduates were promptly appointed as teachers to Greek High Schools and today they are considered to play a major role in the conveyance of the education for consumer citizenship’s principles in Greek society, since Home Economics is the only Junior High School subject that promotes and develops consumer awareness in Greek Secondary Education.

Key words: consumer citizenship, education, training, instructional strategies, consumer awareness


As it usually happens with most complex social phenomena which need to be brought under consideration within the framework of education in order to be faced effectively by present students and future citizens, consumerism increasingly tends to be considered by educational systems as a problem which is per se insurmountable, given the fact that material goods’ abundance and consumption are supposed to be an only and definitely irrevocable way to individual welfare and consequent global development through the strengthening of economic growth (Davis & Sumara 2006). It is, therefore, much easier for contemporary educational systems around the world, which somehow or other protect social dogmas and convey society’s fundamental values to younger members, to accept consumption’s superpower and to deal merely with consequences and impacts of consumerism by highlighting the responsibility of present consumers’ decisions and behaviours for the future generations, than to challenge modern society’s orientations and, if possible, to refute an almost solidified fallacious creed that human happiness is unbreakably connected with excessive, or in some cases even with rational, consumption (Doyle 2006). It is obvious, however, that the more financially developed the country is, the more difficult for its educational system is to serve a sincere anti-consumerism ideology, especially in cases where the education is expected at the same time, but rather to the opposite direction, to boost a rapid technological growth and mould characters who, in the future, will participate more actively, effectively, restlessly in the process of production – and inevitably, after that, in the process of consumption (McGregor 2008). Humanistic ideals, of course, are not absent from the objectives of most western countries’ educational systems; repeatedly, however, the outcomes of educational processes are evaluated in terms of quantity, not of quality. Financially developed societies provide to their students/citizens more schools, wider education, broader knowledge, numerous opportunities for participation in cultural creation, even a wide, rich range of socially proposed features (adaptability, effectiveness, self-development, self-realization, solidarity and so forth) from which a young person is expected to choose the ones s/he wants to adopt and develop in order to be more flexible, more adapted to the requirements of an excessively materialistic and minimally humanistic society. In other words, most educational systems adapt people to the needs of a commercial society instead of questioning the very orientation of such a society and struggle for a meaningful change (Peters, Britton & Blee 2008).

Conversely, for a country such as Greece that is not yet fully developed in terms of economy, a very persistent humanistic orientation can be detected throughout its educational framework, despite the fact that free market economy’s rules and values tend to be dominant after the Greece’s participation as a full member in the European Economic and Monetary Union (2002) (Gamble 2006). Motivated probably by its humanistic past, the education in Greece, especially primary and secondary, still lays stress on the students’ development of qualitative features without, however, putting analogous emphasis on the contribution of this development to the future growth of country’s economical welfare and affluence. Creating physically, cognitively and emotionally balanced personalities remains, to a certain extent, a main objective, while social sensitisation and solidarity are expected to be developed through students’ multifaceted contact with texts rich in authentic humanistic values, and socio-educational activities related to modern and ancient culture and tradition. The majority of school subjects do not only aim at promoting humanistic ideals, but also at revealing the impact of several negative modern phenomena. In such a framework, phenomena like consumerism in the form of agonized massive accumulation of goods and services is stigmatized through sporadic mentions incorporated in school subjects such as Greek Literature and Culture, History, Citizenship Education, Religion Issues, Sociology and Philosophy. An aggregate and thorough-going review, however, of consumerism is realized in Greek classrooms during the teaching of Consumer Citizenship, which is the pivotal core of Modern Home Economics, an interdisciplinary school subject attended by thirteen year-old students and constructed on the basis of cross-thematic school Curricula’s principles and experiential learning’s objectives and instructional methods (Georgitsoyanni, Koutrouba & Goussia-Rizou 2003).

The aim of the present study was to present, firstly, how Greek student teachers are trained through University Syllabus and Practicum in order to be qualified as educators for consumer citizenship, secondly, how they diffuse this specific knowledge to their students during their years of in-class service and finally to examine the career satisfaction of the graduates of Home Economics and Ecology at Harokopio University of Athens.

Materials and Methods

The current University Syllabusand Practicumof Home Economics and Ecology Department were recorded in order to describe how Greek university students are trained as educators for consumer citizenship and how they diffuse this specific knowledge to their students. Also, a survey was conducted in 2007, in order to examine the career satisfaction of the graduates. The statistical frame of the survey was based on the 1998-2000 graduates of Home Economics and Ecology at Harokopio University of Athens. This specified period was selected because Harokopio University was established in 1993; therefore the first students graduated in 1998. In addition, the survey was interested for alumni/alumnae who had completed all their post graduation endeavours or obligations, such as postgraduate studies or compulsory military service for men and had settled professionally. The size of the sample used in the study was 150 graduates. Data on the characteristics of the graduates were collected through a questionnaire survey.

The data collected were analysed by using descriptive statistics for calculating the means and standard deviations of continuous variables and the frequencies and percentages of discrete variables.


How Greek student teachers are trained in order to be qualified as educators for consumer citizenship:

Since Home Economics is the main Junior High School subject that methodically promotes and systematically develops consumer awareness in Greek Secondary Education, the education and training of Home Economics’ teachers is considered by the Greek State as a matter of prime importance. In the Faculty of Home Economics and Ecology at Harokopio University of Athens, student teachers attend special courses on consumer citizenship and sustainable development and are scientifically trained to use effectively alternative instructional strategies during the teaching of subject units that refer to relevant issues. Given the fact that, since 1998, when the first teachers completed their studies in the new autonomous University, all graduates have been promptly appointed as teachers to Greek High Schools, today they are considered to play a major role in the conveyance of the education for consumer citizenship’s principles in Greek society.

Student teachers at Home Economics University are educated to regard over-consumption primarily as a matter of ethics and secondarily as an economical issue. An obvious objective of such a perspective is Greek education’s intention to reveal the intimate motives hidden behind consumerism and, therefore, to help students strike at the root of the problem instead of fighting against its consequences. Students probing deep into the mechanism of ancient Greece’s socio-financial and political function and development, realize that over-consumption was considered as an index of the city-state’s prosperity. From an archaic Doric ideal of self-restraint, abstinence and frugality in the eighth century B.C. Greeks moved gradually through the centuries to an almost overweening stance against simplicity in the early third century B.C.; kings, tyrants and even democratic political leaders and orators tried to attribute their city’s advancements and political dominion over the Mediterranean and Minor Asia world to the Greek affluence of goods, not only of material but also of cultural ones (Pomeroy et. al. 2008). Colonies and conquered regions, triremes, soldiers, slaves, friends, allies, provisions, theatres, stadiums and temples, feasts and symposia, works of intellect, political and philosophical speeches were estimated in terms of quantity and as an evidence for luxury and affluence, despite the fact that only few prudent thinkers were concentrated in the pursuit of happiness through the seeking of quality (Koutrouba & Apostolopoulos 2003). The richest and more consumerist the ancient Greek citizens were becoming, the fastest their transition from self-sufficiency to greed and loss of all sense of proportion was progressing. From an ethical point of view modern Greek students can discern an apparent distortion of values; their ancestors in the course of time started valuing ‘having’ more than ‘being’, turning consequently to an unleashed expansionist policy and despotic attitude towards others. Greek states’ decline, as a result of a luxurious life and insatiable wish for more goods and amenities, provides modern students with a clear understanding of consumerism’s deeper origin and consequences. Looking back into history Greek student teachers also review Byzantine Empire’s decline after a long period of one thousand years of powerful domination over the medieval world, that came as a result of spiritual values’ fading due to society’s turn to seductive materialism.

A thorough research of consumerist phenomena is completed for Greek student teachers with an extensive examination of Industrial Revolution in the late eighteenth century and its contribution to the shaping of modern consumerist society. Students pore over the consequences of goods’ massive production and consequent natural resources’ exhaustion, as they are historically linked to the Great Powers’ conflicts and wars and to the people’s destructive steps to over-consumerism that alienated them from the humanitarian principles and values that Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment had proposed and developed in the past centuries (Sassatelli 2007).

This historical review on values, however, does not really aim at strengthening student teachers’ cognitive background on history. It is rather used as a means of clear examination and explanation of a phenomenon and a feature that is so compactly connected to the very nature of modern man that any effort to detach it from modern man’s personality looks rather futile. Yet, the planners of Home Economics’ Curricula, by familiarizing student teachers with the roots and the developing and changing forms of a very complicated socio-economical but primarily ethical problem, which can be historically examined ‘in vitro’, tend to believe that for a society that reconsiders its values and orientations, a rational blunting of this problem is not unfeasible.

How they diffuse this specific knowledge to their students during their years of in-class service:

Teachers of Home Economics, having themselves realized the ways that affluence allures and, in the long run, captivates and enslaves the conscience of a society that over-consumes, prompt their students, firstly, to get familiarized with the contemporary mechanisms that promote the ideology of consumption and, secondly, to develop personal strategies of resistance by reacting consciously and effectively within their narrow or broader social settings.

Discerning and separating fictitious from real needs constitutes the first step in developing a deeper understanding of over-consumption phenomenon. Teachers utilize the main principles of experiential learning, since students’ everyday experience can be effectively used in order for their awareness to be stimulated and developed (Carroll & Reichelt 2008). Students, working in small groups, are prompted, on a daily basis and for a period exceeding one month, to draw up lists where all emerging needs are recorded. Every need is examined in connection with a defined social frame and, at the same time, with a distinct domain of human nature (physical, affective). Buying, for instance, a nice blouse fulfils primarily a physical need, but, simultaneously, the blouse’s firm name reflects the social stratum where the buyer belongs. A consequent affective need is therefore satisfied; by showing off our belongings we affirm our place in this particular stratum, strengthening thus our self-esteem and confidence (Williams 2002). Students are expected to realize that affective need is not prime or imposed by nature; it actually follows a social need that, despite its importance, can be reconsidered and belittled with minimal consequences, on condition that one earnestly wants to take control of one’s behaviour. Family income or other differentiating factors, such as gender, profession or level of education can affect the final choices of the consumer, but the over-consumption’s core objective (affective relief within a highly demanding social environment) seem to be common for the majority of human beings (Frank & Enkawa 2009). A needs’ classification reveals how many secondary requirements and corresponding products have been invented in order to fill a life vacuous in terms of meaningful and substantial values, in deed regardless the social stratum and the economic power of the consumer. During consumer citizenship education of the Greek student the main interest focuses, therefore, not on what or, even, how much one finally buys and consumes, but rather on the values one embraces during consumption and on the objectives one pursues; if education manages to prove the insufficiency, superficiality and vanity of current material objectives, and to propose different ones (such as self-restraint, self-knowledge, balanced social interaction, solidarity and so forth) that can be attained with more spiritual ways and means (cultivation and fostering of humanitarian ideals, strengthening of social virtues and unity through education), then the problem is expected to have been struck at the very root of it. Students are prompted to construct simple questionnaires or to review members of their family environment in order to record their consuming objectives and values as well as the degree of satisfaction they experience due to consumption. Afterwards, under teacher’s supervision and assistance, they elaborate the data collected, and draw their conclusions focusing mainly on the similarities of fundamental human objectives (fulfilment of physiological, safety, belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization needs, as they have been formulated by A. Maslow), which however are satisfied through the consumption of different products. Students collaboratively produce written essays where, after a guided research on social history and thought, they examine whether these main objectives can be fulfilled in different, less consumerist ways. Their conclusions and proposals are then communicated to all participants and fellow-citizens during school’s interaction with local society.

The second step for students is their familiarization with the techniques of advertisement and goods’ promotion. Students are prompted to collect, over a period of two months, different types of advertisements, to decode obvious or hidden messages, to analyze the means used, to define the consumers’ target group, and to realize the new values founded, namely to realize that, despite the fact that projected values (such as beauty, happiness, success, acceptance) are already known to the target group, their linking to and dependence on the use of a particular material product produces a new kind of value without idealistic, theoretical or ethical connotations, a ‘value’ that can be easily reached and obtained through marketplace procedures as it happens with all other material products (Carey, Shaw & Shiu 2008). Students also analyze the background or complementary life and behaviour models projected by advertisements; expensive houses, cars, jewels, modern conveniences, ambitious executives, desirable women, smartly-dressed and successfully raised children, sincere reciprocal feelings, all achieved and accomplished through the acquisition of goods, all picturing to consumer’s imagination a model of sought-after life and, even worse, a model of being. Students are prompted to download advertisements from commercial websites, to collect television, magazine and newspapers’ advertisements, where different messages and models of thinking and feeling are expressed. They especially examine (during an interdisciplinary approach through Language and Literature, Religion, History and Social Studies) the powerful attraction of language and picture, the ways that symbols are used and feelings are manipulated, and, finally, the means used in order for the market’s intentions and rules to dominate over consumer’s will and consciousness. Roundtable and panel discussions, debates and role playing are actively used as a means for students to fully develop a personal stance against over-consumption. Moreover, in many cases, students, encouraged by their Home Economics’ teacher, come in contact with national and international non-profit organizations for the protection of consumers’ rights, they are informed, among others, about their rights against misleading advertisement and participate in short-range campaigns for the information of local community.

In a third step of profound awareness students scrutinize consumerism’s consequences firstly on human personality and secondly on natural resources and environment. As far as human personality is concerned, students examine how consumerist objectives alter one’s behaviour in daily life. Consumers are convinced that, if they are to be free and avoid falling short of personal, family and social environment’s expectations, they must satisfy their endlessly growing needs, by working longer and harder, by possessing and spending more, by adjusting and subjugating, in fact, his/her personal aspirations (physical, psychological, affective, social) to the illogical demands and for the benefit of a highly seductive but virtually impersonal industry that eventually can enslave any unsuspecting consumer. Moreover, as far as consequences for natural resources and environment are concerned, students are prompted to correlate consumerism with the exhaustion of unsustainable resources and with its impact on other peoples and future generations’ life (Hicks & Holden 2007).

During this two-direction step of action students are prompted to bring about gradual changes and effect improvements in their personal daily lifestyle, especially in cases where family environment is helpful or susceptible of change. Collaborating in big groups and with the co-operation of Religion and Philosophy teachers, they are prompted to reduce excessive consumption and save up money not in order to buy later more products but in order to provide weak social strata with primary necessities or other humanitarian aid. What is mainly expected is students’ realization that needs and values of higher rank in A. Maslow’s Pyramid do not actually need material goods in order to be fulfilled. On the contrary, an energetic, dynamic students’ presence and participation in social actions can produce stronger feelings of self-actualization, self-esteem, belonging and safety.

Students’ sensitization about environmental issues, such as the climate change, the greenhouse effect, the ozone depletion, the exhaustion of resources and the exploitation of poorer countries’ resources and economy by industrialized world, is accomplished through interdisciplinary teaching with the participation of teachers of Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Geography and Sociology. They examine thoroughly the consequences of environmental change by observing and recording national and international data on environment deterioration and they are actively involved in local programmes for wastes’ recycling, reforestation, wildlife observation, and conservation of flora and fauna through the preservation of their habitats. They contribute in local community information and sensitization by publishing articles in local or school newspapers and by distributing relevant handouts, where a systematic effort is made to highlight the connection between consumer choices and environmental change.

Career satisfaction of the graduates of Home Economics and Ecology at Harokopio University of Athens: Results of survey.

Given the fact that 97% of the graduates of Home Economics and Ecology at Harokopio University of Athens, were promptly appointed as teachers to Greek High Schools, today they are considered to play a major role in the conveyance of the education for consumer citizenship’s principles in Greek society, since Home Economics is the only Junior High School subject that promotes and develops consumer awareness in Greek Secondary Education.

More specifically, the 97% of Home Economic and Ecology Department graduates of the years 1998-2000 are now (2007) appointed as teachers in different junior high schools of their preference and the rest 3% have found a job in the private sector, having, however, an occupation related to their studies. Ninety one percent of the graduates are very satisfied or satisfied from their studies and 97% are very satisfied from their occupation.


In the Faculty of Home Economics and Ecology at Harokopio University of Athens, student teachers attend special courses on consumer citizenship and are systematically trained to use effectively alternative instructional strategies during the teaching of subject units that refer to consumer citizenship.

Students are prompted to examine how personal choices and attitudes towards consumption have a multileveled impact on others in the present and, also, in the future time. Students look deeper into consumption complicated problems by examining them in the frame of modern economic ethics in order to reveal the degree of personal responsibility for political, economical, social and environmental situation in world places that, at first sight, seem to be quite far-off. Strengthening peoples’ solidarity through the projection of ‘participatory consumerism’ constitutes an ambitious objective.

Apparently, for Greek educational system, consumer citizenship education should primarily aim at a radical shift in personal and national values, moral perspectives and ethics, given the fact that a sincere and effective change in behaviour can only be expected where and when people act first as humans and then as consumers.


Carey, L., Shaw, D. & Shiu, E. (2008) The impact of ethical concerns on family consumer decision-making, International Journal of Consumer Studies 32 (5), 553-560.

Carroll, E. B. & Reichelt, S. A. (2008) Using current consumer issues to involve students in research, International Journal of Consumer Studies 32 (4), 391-393.

Davis, B. & Sumara, D. (2006) Complexity and education: Inquiries into learning, teaching and research. Routledge: London.

Doyle, D. (ed.) (2006) Consumer citizenship: Promoting new Responses. Vol. 2: Catalyzing change. Consumer Citizenship Network, Hedmark University College: Hamar.

Frank, B. & Enkawa, T. (2009) Economic influences on perceived value, quality expectations and customer satisfaction, International Journal of Consumer Studies 33 (1), 72-82.

Gamble, A. (2006) Euro illusion or the reverse? Effects of currency and income on evaluations of prices of consumer products, Journal of Economic Psychology 27, 531-542.

Georgitsoyanni, E., Koutrouba, K. & Goussia-Ri­zou, Μ. (2003) La contribution de l’économie domestique dans la for­mation de l’individu via l’école et la famille: l’exemple grec formé sur des modèles suis­ses. In: Société Suisse Pour La Recherché En Education (éd.), Actes du Congres annuel. Ecole et Famille: Les perspectives dans la différence. pp. 1-6 (CD-ROM). Université de Berne: Berne.

Hicks, D. & Holden, C. (eds.) (2007) Teaching the global dimension: Key principles and effective practice. Routledge: London.

Koutrouba, K. & Apostolopoulos, K. (2003) Home Economics in ancient Greece and the origins of modern Human Ecology. Stamoulis: Athens.

McGregor, S. L. T. (2008) Ideological maps of consumer education, International Journal of Consumer Studies 32 (5), 545-552.

Peters, M., Britton, A. & Blee, H. (eds.) (2008) Global citizenship education: Philosophy, theory and pedagogy. Sense Publishers: Rotterdam.

Pomeroy, S. B., Burstein, S. M., Donlan, W., Roberts, J. T. (2008) A brief history of ancient Greece: Politics, society, and culture. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Sassatelli, R. (2007) Consumer culture: History, theory and politics. Sage: London.

Williams, T. G. (2002) Social class influences on purchase evaluation criteria, Journal of Consumer Marketing 19, 249-276.

One eco-action in a day

Leena K. Lahti

Senior Lecturer in geography and Biology

Savonlinna Department of Teacher Education

University of Joensuu

PL 86

57100 Savonlinna




We have in Savonlinna Department of Teacher Education in Finland a course “Ecology, society and sustainable development”. The course discuses about the consumption. Important are the global, local and individual problems in the sustainability. The viewpoints are in the ecological, social and economical aspects. The course uses and studies how to teach at schools the sustainability: projects, eco-labels, the ecological footprint and the carbon footprint etc. The course organizes a simply questionnaire for other students: What will be my eco-action today? In the same situation, people got information and sustainable development. The answers are classified. In this paper is also a short description why we need eco-actions, and what we have done on the earth.

Man and nature

The most fundamental interdependencies are those involving interactions between people and the natural environment. These interactions shape landscapes and give places and regions their distinctive characteristics, and they are increasingly influenced by processes of globalization. The massive transformation of nature by human activity has led to claim that we can do no longer talk about “natural” environments or untouched wilderness. Geographers have played a major role in highlighting the global scope of the transformation in their discussions of global environment change.

For example temperate forests originally covered about 95 percent of Europe. Permanent fields were established usually thorough clearing the woodland. Between A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1300, a period of warmer climate, together with advances in agricultural knowledge and practices, led to a significant transformation of the European landscape. By about 1200 most of the best soils of Western Europe had been cleared of forest.

Urbanization encroached on rural landscapes and generated unprecented amounts and concentrations of human, domestic, and industrial waste, and manufacturing, unregulated at first, resulted in extremely unhealthy levels of air pollution and in pollution of rivers and streams. In many ways, man has intervened in large global processes and caused very harmful results. The large fluxes of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere change the energy exchange. The surface waters have been changed through addition of nitrogen and phosphorous. These additional flows often linear in contrast to the cyclic flows in nature, and interfere with stable biogeochemical cycles. The future of humankind requires respect for these basic rules, and protection of the rich and beautiful mosaic of life forms on this unique planet.

The questionnaire

As told before the course of “Ecology, society and sustainable development” organize in Savonlinna Departnment of Teacher Education a simply questionnaire for other students: “What will be my eco-action today”. By this question the course tried to activate students to think again about the sustainability. We know that very often we are tired out of thinking the sustainability. We need new and new ideas to wake up to think what we are doing for it. We also know that the small local thinks are important for the global thinking.

120 student and teachers answered. The answers classified using the groups housing, food, welfare, services, leisure time, transport, else. Most of the answers considered housing (shower, recycling, the use of the water etc). The next group was the transport: to walk or cycle into the university. Many did not take plastic by shopping. Some said that they will eat only vegetables today.


In Finland people are quite well informed about the sustainability and the infrastructure is organized for that more and more well. We can see this also in the answers. The Finnish cold climate gives some problems, for example the need to heat houses well. The distances are long in the few populated country etc.


Kohti kestäviä valintoja. Kansallisesti ja globaalisti kestävä Suomi. Kansallinen kestävän kehityksen strategia. Valtioneuvoston kanslian julkaisusarja 5/2006.

Lahti, Leena K. 2004. Ympäristökasvatuksen sekä ympäristö- ja luonnontiedon merkityseroista. Natura 4/2004. Helsinki. Finland.

Lahti, Leena K. 2005. Helath and citizenship education in Finland. Tangen, Dag and Thoresen Victoria (eds): Taking responsibility. CCN. Hedmark. Norway. Pp.200-204.

Thoresen, Victoria W. 2005. Awareness, Action and Accountability. In Doyle, Declan (ed): Taking responsibility. CCN. Hamar. Norway. Pp 9-19.

Fair Trade and donations: Two possibilities to contribute to poverty alleviation in daily purchase decisions - Do consumers care? Nina Langen, Carola Grebitus and Monika Hartmann

Nina Langen1, Carola Grebitus2, Monika Hartmann2

1 University of Bonn

Center for Development Research (ZEF B)
Walter-Flex-Straße 3    *    53113 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 228 - 73 1876


Internet: www.zef.de

2 University of Bonn

Institute of Food and Resource Economics

Department of Agricultural and Food Market Research

Nussallee 21 *   53115 Bonn, Germany

Phone +49 (0) 228 73-3582



Internet: www.ilr.uni-bonn.de


In 2005 1.4 billion people in developing countries were living below the poverty line which means they had less than $1.25 available per day (Worldbank 2008). At the same time, the “ethical consumer” is increasingly discussed (e.g. Schulz 2008, Harrison et al. 2005).

The trend, that consumers account for ethical concerns in their purchase decision, seems to be confirmed by increasing sales volumes of Fair Trade (FT) products (Transfair 2008) as well as the increased visibility of promotion products of which a part of the sales revenue is a donation to the respectively promoted project (the so called cause related marketing (CRM)). The market for certified coffee, e.g. FT and organic, grows at double digit rates since 2000. FT labelled coffee shows a growth rate of 46% worldwide between 2004 and 2006 and 14% in 2008 in Germany (Byers et al. 2008; Transfair 2008). Organic coffee has a market share of 3.5% in Germany and shows as well double digit growth (BLE 2008). Besides single labelled coffee double certified coffee is a new trend. Worldwide nearly 50% of the FT coffee is double certified carrying also an organic certification (Byers et al. 2008). FT and to a certain extent also organic produced products are considered as ethical products (De Pelsmacker et al. 2005). The reason is that the production of FT and organic products follows specific rules which restrict the output of environmental damage, constitutes specific working conditions as well as animal well being and have the goal to reduce poverty by empowerment of marginalised producers etc.

These developments are important because purchasing FT products or donations to e.g. development aid organisations for instance in form of CRM are two of the most common options for people in industrialised countries to make an individual contribution to poverty alleviation. But what if consumers face the possibility to support producers in developing countries through a product purchase? Which (product) features play a major role? Are the concerns about working conditions, fair wages etc. just lip services? Does the responsible and conscious FT consumer take care about the differences between FT and donations?

The aim of our study is to investigate these questions by use of coffee purchase as an example. We choose coffee as a study object because it is the favourite beverage of German consumers (Deutscher Kaffeeverband 2009). Therefore we can assume that consumers really care about their coffee choice and that the results will benefit from consumers high involvement. Also, coffee is a typical product from developing countries. Thus, it is well suited for a CRM campaign, especially a donation to a charity organisation working in a coffee producing country. The market place confirms our assumption: in May 2008 Dallmayr launched a coffee called “Ethiopia” of which per sold package five trees are planted in Ethiopia. In this regard, the campaign is close to a regular donation and comparable to FT.

Consumers might contribute to charity or buy FT products for various reasons. Therefore, preferences are expected to vary across individuals. Without understanding the form and extent of preference heterogeneity it will be difficult to make assumptions regarding the relationship between donations, FT and CRM activities in combination with a product purchase. Against this background, we conducted a choice experiment with n=481 in Germany to investigate consumers’ preferences for differently labelled coffee. Our objectives are: 1. to compare attitudes towards important coffee and food features with the choices resulting from the choice experiment; 2. to perform a market segmentation in order to distinguish and compare consumers with preferences for FT and those with preferences for donations.

The remainder of the paper is as follows: in the next section theoretical background information is given. In section 3 the methodological background is described. Section 4 provides estimation results from the econometric analysis. We finish with some concluding remarks.

2. Theoretical Background

2.1. The Phenomenon of Ethical Consumption

Ethical consumption as a form of market behaviour became obvious in the last three decades (Harrison et al. 2005). The definition of the ethical consumer is seldom exclusive and mostly descriptive. Harrison et al. (2005) explain ethical purchase behaviour as a traditional consumption plus a concern. The assumption that a consumer purchases the cheapest good which is fitting his needs leads to the definition of the traditional purchasing. If people deviate from the normal assumption and consider other concerns like working conditions for disadvantaged producers in developing countries or absence of child labour in their purchase, then their shopping decision can be called ethical purchase behaviour. The motives of people to buy a certain kind of product are manifold. They vary from a concern for environmental issues over political to religious, spiritual and social motives. The one important common point which is independent from the motives of consumption is that ethical consumers bear in mind the effect their purchase decision has not only on themselves but especially “on the external world around them” (Harrison et al. 2005). When we combine the definition of Tallontire et al. (2001) - an ethical consumer is a customer feeling responsible towards society - and that of De Pelsmacker et al. (2005) saying that these feelings are expressed by means of his purchase behaviour then we arrive at the relationship between FT and charitable giving. Besides this, in the context of FT it is often talked about ethical or responsible consumers (Ruwet 2007).

If we follow Priller and Sommerfeld (2005) and define donations as a form of social participation, a contribution to welfare production which is able to maintain and open up social connecting forces in modern societies, we can state that one precondition out of a bundle of motives for a donation is that the giving individual is an ethical being. And if we define, according to Nicholls and Opal (2005), FT as a kind of an alternative market mechanism which is neither donations nor non-profit but a form of political and ethical consumption, an individual buying fairly traded products is an ethical consumer. Therefore we can link ethical consumption patterns, donations, FT and CRM.

2.2. Donations in Germany

2.2.1. Donation volume in Germany

Regularly available numbers regarding donations to non-profit organisations in Germany are provided by the GfK, Deutscher Spendenmonitor, and the National Income statistic (see table 1). Their results differ strongly with respect to the donation amounts (from 2.6 to 7 billion EUR/year) and the donation purpose in Germany (Priller and Sommerfeld 2005). For instance TNS Infratest (2008) reports that development projects benefit of about 19% of the 2.8 Billion EUR which were donated in 2007 in Germany. GfK (2008a) reports different percentages on a different basis: in the first half of 2008 9.3% of humanitarian help, which is 80% of the total donation volume, was given to long-term development projects and 18.7% went to first aid.

Table 1: Charitable giving survey data in Germany



Billion EUR


GfK Charity Scope



Respondents at least 10 years old, 10.000 interviews, diary, monthly





Deutscher Spendenmonitor



Respondents at least 14 years old, 4.000 interviews, Face-to-Face, yearly





National Income Statistic



Taxpayer, complete inventory count

Source: Sommerfeld (2008) for the data until 2006, data for 2007 from GFK (2008a) and TNS Infratest (2008), data for the national income statistic from Buschle (2006).

2.2.2. Socio-demographic and regional differences of donors

The willingness to spend and the amount of donations depend on age (younger people spend less), economic situation which often depends on education level (wage earner spend more than trainees or unemployed people, retirees and housewives spend most), religious denomination (raises the probability of contribution, while there is not much of a difference between Catholics or Protestants) and the number of children in the household (positive correlated with donation) (Buschle 2006). Related to the entity of taxpayers most of the donors can be found among the married couples with three or more children. No differences in terms of donation habits can be found regarding gender (GfK 2008b). In 2008 more than 50% of the monetary donations come according to GfK (2008b) from people older than 60 years (which are only 26% of the panel) and more than 50% of these are given by those people older than 70 years.

2.3. Fair Trade in Germany

As can be seen in table 2 in recent years the number and the sales of FT products increased. The overall sales volume of FT products with the certification mark is 142 Mio. € in 2007 (Transfair 2008). 70% of all FT products are also certified organic. Coffee is the front runner of the FT products in Germany: it has more than 50% share of sales (LZ Net 2007); with a market share of 1% in 2005 (Krier 2005).

Table 2: Fair Trade sales figures in Germany 2004-2007


Sales volume of fair traded products

[Mio EUR]

% to PY

Sales volume with Fair Trade labeled products
[Mio EUR]

% to PY

coffee sales

% to PY

Fair Trade and organic certified

































> 70

Source: Forum Fairer Handel (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008).

The German consumer initiative stated that women buy more (40% buy FT) than men (33% buyers), that higher income classes (more than 2500 EUR/month) are more likely FT buyers than people with a lower income, higher educated people (high school) are more often buyer (50%) than less educated (32%) (Verbraucher Initiative 2007).


3.1. Choice experiments

Choice experiments are a flexible approach to record preference data from individuals in artificial but at the same time realistic situations. Realistic in the sense, that a situation is created where an individual should compare alternatives through their attributes and come to a decision between the alternatives. For more information see e.g. Adamowicz et al. (1998).

3.2. Latent class analysis

To analyze the data gathered with the choice experiments random utility models based on latent class / finite mixture modelling are applied (e.g. Scarpa and Thiene 2005). Latent class analysis assumes that within the basic population different groups or segments with varying preference structures, which result in different preference parameters β, can be distinguished. In a simultaneous process the latent class model (LCM) estimates utility parameters of the different attributes and the probability of the affiliation of the respondents to these components. This means that it simultaneously determines and describes product choice and group membership while it separates the sample in several, homogenous subgroups which map the heterogeneity in the population (Holmes and Adamowicz 2003). Every consumer is attached to that segment where he has the biggest probability of affiliation to a segment, near 1 (Gensler 2003). The respondents are grouped into the segments based on statistical information criteria (Greene 2003). The Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) and the Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) are frequently used to determine the number of segments. Therefore, model parameters are estimated for increasing numbers of segments until the point where an additional segment does not improve the model fit according to the named criteria (Wedel and Kamakura 2000).


The data for this study was collected through a consumer survey in the region Cologne/Bonn, Germany in January 2008 via face to face interviews. Participants were screened for inclusion in the study based on the question whether they drink coffee or not. Only coffee drinkers qualified for the study. The final sample consists of 481 coffee drinking participants. The interview consisted of five sections regarding participants’ purchase and consumption habits, knowledge of FT, donation habits, attitudes towards donations and FT, and socio-demographic information as well as the choice experiment.

During the coffee choice experiment participants were asked to make six choices. Each choice set consisted of four coffee packages representing different attribute bundles and various attribute levels. The experimental design included four coffee attributes with different levels each. Namely, Price: 2.99 EUR, 3.99 EUR, 4.99 EUR, 5.99 EUR; Organic: no, yes; Label: no label, FT, charity organization; Donation: no donation, 0.2 EUR or 0.5 EUR or 1 EUR directly to the producer.

Data from the consumer survey are analyzed by means of LCM. The optimal number of classes in the LCM was identified by assessing the AIC, its variant AIC 3, and BIC as well as the log likelihood statistic from 1 to 5 class models. With the increasing number of classes the log likelihood statistic as well as the AIC and BIC values present remarkable changes (the values become smaller) and the R² value increases strongly. A conditional bootstrap with 500 draws showed that the 5 class model does not increase significantly model fit. Thus, we chose the 4 class model which gives overall best results. These results are reported in table 3.

Table 3: Parameter estimates of the 4 class model

Choice Model































p-value of Wald (=)













not organic





















no label











Fair Trade









Donation Label










no donation











0.2 EUR









0.5 EUR





























Class Membership model






























































Donor and buyer










Feel responsible










Feel connected










Want to help










Think ‚organic’ is important










Think ‚no child labor’ is important










Think ‚adequate producer price’ is important










Think ‚cheap product’ is important










The upper part of the table presents the choice model and shows the parameter estimates of the segment specific utility functions. The lower part of table 3 shows the results of the class membership model. All coffee attributes affect significantly the choice over the classes. The Wald (=) statistic (which checks “the equality of each set of regression effects across classes” (Vermunt and Magidson, p.121) indicates whether parameters differ significantly between groups. It shows preference heterogeneity for all attributes and the “none of these” alternative.

The comparison of the coefficients reveals differences between the classes with regard to the highest valued attributes and allows the naming of the groups: class 1 - the price conscious coffee shoppers - are the most price sensitive and with 43% of all respondents belonging to it the biggest class, Class 2 - the donors - love the donation in combination with the product purchase but not FT and is with 28% of the respondents a bit bigger than class 3 (25%), class 3 - the FT and organic lovers - highly value organic production and FT and class 4 - the denier - is the smallest class with 2% and dislikes any kind of label on the coffee. The different parameter estimates for the classes support the existence of preference heterogeneity in the sample for coffee attributes. Results from the model of choices indicate that class 1 is a bit similar to class 3 in having positive parameter estimates for organic production, FT and the donation amount labelled on the coffee pack. The high z-values lead to the conclusion that all the estimates for class 1 are significant. Class 2 cannot be analysed with respect to organic production and FT because the z-values are not significant. Interestingly class 2 shows the lowest parameter estimates compared to the other classes for the labelled amount of donation. Class 3 is the least price sensitive class and has a strong preference for organic and FT indicated by the high magnitudes of the parameter. No clear statement can be given about the preference for a high amount of donation because the z-values for 0.2 and 1 EUR are not significant. Nevertheless, we can state that class 3 prefers a donation of 0.5 EUR over no donation and therefore CRM activities positively influence the utility of class 3 members. Class 4 members strongly dislike organic and FT labelling and “no amount” of donation influences the members’ utility positively.

The class membership model allows us to identify the sources for the differences in the choice model. Results show a significant effect of the covariates age, education, classification of respondents as donors, FT buyer, both or nothing at all, the adequate producer price and the desire to buy cheap products. Class 1 includes respondents which are compared to the other segments significantly younger and indicated significantly more often that the price of a product is very important for their purchase decision and that cheap products are preferred. Class 2 includes significantly more donors and elderly respondents than the other classes. When it comes to the influence of the variable adequate producer price and the importance of cheap products class 3 significantly differs from the other classes: the compliance for the statement that a fair price is essential for the purchase of food was very high. At the same time class 3 strongly disagreed with that statement. In class 3 we find significantly often very well educated people with a university degree, more purchasers of FT products and more people purchasing and donating to developmental projects at the same time. Class 4 significantly differs from the other classes with respect to the statement of the fair price for producers: they strongly negate that this is an issue influencing their purchase decision. Class 4 includes respondents who neither donated nor purchased FT products.


This study investigates the preference heterogeneity of consumers regarding FT and donations to developmental purposes. In this regard, we applied choice experiments in a consumer survey and used a LCM to analyze the data for characterisation of the preference heterogeneity. The results of the latent class analysis show that segments of consumers can be differentiated with respect to their preferences for FT and monetary donations. Furthermore, it becomes evident that class membership is conditional on individual characteristics like attitudes and socio-demographic characteristics. In the analysis we found evidence of four latent classes with statistically well defined preferences. Our results are to a certain extent in line with the earlier mentioned of the Verbraucher Initiative (2007) and GfK (2008b): elderly people who at the same time give donations to developmental purposes tend to choose a coffee with a donation label. At the same time we identify a completely different group of highly educated mid-agers with a strong favour for organic production and FT. This group is hardly price sensitive. Although consumers also give to charity they do not value a donation in form of CRM. The largest class of price sensitive people show characteristics of free riding: in the choice model they show positive parameters for FT, organic production and a high indicated donation amount going to the coffee producer. But in the model for classes these variables are not significantly different from the other classes. Interestingly concerns about fair wages for producers (54% agreed this is very important or important for their food purchase decision), absence of child labour (82% agreed this is very important or important for their food purchase decision) do play an important role when people are asked directly for these issues in the questionnaire. But only class 1 and 3 do the transfer from the statements and choose the coffee with the FT label. Furthermore, the results in table 3 indicate that statements regarding the feeling of responsibility towards marginalised producers or the wish to help these people included as covariates do not provide further inside in the creating process of utility.

It becomes evident that half of the respondents have a positive attitude towards FT and CRM activities. As these respondents are not identical cannibalism between CRM activities and FT is not very likely. Thus, we can state that at least some German coffee drinkers care about poverty of marginalised people in developing countries in daily purchase decisions.


Adamowicz, W. et al. (1998): Introduction to Attribute-Based Stated Choice Methods - Final Report, http://www.nero.noaa.gov/hcd/socio/statedchoicemethods.pdf, 01.04.2008.

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Using creative instruments for promoting sustainable citizenship

Satu Lähteenoja, Burcu Tunçer and Marja Salo

Satu Lähteenoja1, Burcu Tunçer1 and Marja Salo2

1. CSCP (UNEP/Wuppertal Institute Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production), Germany.

Hagenauer Str. 30, D-42107 Wuppertal, Germany.

satu.lahteenoja@, burcu.tuncer@

+49 202 45 95 818

2. One did it Ltd, Finland.

Arabiankatu 12, FIN-00560, Helsinki.


+358 400 757 413

Using creative instruments for promoting sustainable citizenship


This paper and presentation discuss the importance of co-operation between different actors of society as well as the use of creative tools and processes when targeting the transition to more sustainable lifestyles. It gives examples on how to raise awareness and promote sustainability among different citizen groups by co-operating among researchers, civil society and business.

The first part of the paper focuses on the potential of partnering between civil society and researchers. Civil society has a crucial role in the issue, but more dialogue and partnering between civil society and researchers are needed. Two European Framework Programme 7 research projects targeting at this are introduced with examples on new, creative instruments that civil society organisations can use for advocating, partnering and encouraging change towards sustainable lifestyles. New practices are needed to transform the behaviour change from forerunners to the mainstream.

The second part presents an online community-based service called One did it. The service is based on a test that gives an estimate of the ecological backpack of one’s lifestyle. After doing the test, users have a chance­­­­­­ to receive daily tips and see the benefit of their actions. Furthermore, it is possible to share ideas and actions with other members and see what the whole community has done. Based on the experiences from this community, the potential of online communities to encourage changes in lifestyle is discussed. The exemplary initiatives presented show the potential of the co-operation between different actors.


1.1. The SCP challenge

This year, Europe is facing multiple challenges related to its financial system, climate change and food supply. Tackling these global challenges requires engagement from business, governments and civil society. We need common, overarching strategies to offer solutions to these global problems. The financial meltdown in the short term reduces energy and resource use, but when the growth sets in again, will we return to the business as usual? The revival politics hold potential for change and need to be targeted to support development of more sustainable economics and society (UNEP 2009, Green New Deal Group 2008).

The concept of sustainable consumption has been proposed as a guideline to shift consumption behaviour towards a less harmful direction. A widely recognized definition of sustainable consumption was proposed by the Oslo Symposium on Sustainable Consumption in 1994: “Sustainable production and consumption is the use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life, while minimizing the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as to not jeopardize the needs of future generations.” (The Norwegian Ministry of Environment 1994).

The consumers’ view on sustainable consumption is in general positive but also passive (OECD 2008). There is still a challenge to stress the relevance of food, housing and mobility sectors in order to affect the most important sectors of private consumption. Also cooperation between different actors and new innovations are required to find ways to encourage and support consumers to make changes in their consumption patterns. However, in the recent years, concern about climate change has risen and more and more people are willing to do something to promote sustainability.

1.2 All actors of society needed – the triangle of change

Changing consumption and production patterns will require a joint effort by government, business and civil society actors. Like the Sustainable Consumption Roundtable (2006) stated, “Participation of all actors in society is needed to achieve sustainable consumption and production. None of these actors can change unsustainable patterns alone, but together they can form a so-called triange of change. Actors are ready to change their behaviour if they know that others are doing their bit“ (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Triangle of change

For governments this would mean to create a supportive framework and policy instruments, for business to provide sustainable products and services. Civil society would be important for the introduction of creative instruments for behavioural change. Here, civil society organisations (CSOs) have a crucial role in e.g. motivating consumers to rethink their consumption patterns, pushing business to produce and market in an environmentally and socially responsible way, asking academia to assess the trends, drivers and impacts of our current consumption patterns as well as negotiating with the government on measures to make our current patterns more sustainable. The CSOs’ role is so vital due to their potential to work at the interface of all relevant actors, ranging from academia, policy makers, consumers and business.

The raising environmental awareness of consumers and the business sector has encouraged SMEs to develop services to respond to the demand for information about sustainability and sustainable products and services. Internet provides a favourable environment for them to find audience for new innovative services and products. One example from Finland is a company called Kuinoma (http://www.kuinoma.fi/, in Finnish) which provides a web-based platform for private consumers to rent items to and from each other. Among the most popular products in Kuinoma is high quality outdoor equipment. The service encourages to share equipment and to make more use of already existing items. Kuinoma is one example of an initiative providing business opportunities related to innovative services that also help to introduce sustainable consumption practices.

1.3. Creative instruments for promoting sustainability

The concept of creative instruments is commonly used to refer to new economic tools like emission trading (e.g. Schilling & Osha 2003). Creativity is often also linked to problem solving or finding new approaches i.e. in planning processes (as presented by Woerkum, Aarts and de Grip 2007). However, in this paper the creative instruments refer to new approaches that support behaviour change. These include web tools, comics, exhibitions and community activities to spread awareness of SCP issues, but also new policy instruments and business approaches. In development communication the value of comics for instance has been recognized (e.g. Packalen & Sharma 2007). Authors argue that entertaining and informative tools of communication should be more widely adopted in SCP communication, too. Case examples of new innovative tools are presented in this paper.

Table 1. Examples of creative instruments for SCP led by different stakeholders.

This table will be created based on the CSO Platform on SCP conference results.

2. Case CSO platform on SCP

2.1. Objectives

The first step in involving CSOs to SCP is to inform and engage these organisations. It is essential to first agree on “the evidence base” if we want to achieve changes in the system of consumption and production (Tuncer & Narberhaus 2008). This requires a platform for discussion on the most relevant SCP issues.

The project “CSO Platform on SCP” is funded by the EU’s 7th Research Framework Programme and conducted by UNEP/Wuppertal Institute Collaboration Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), Centre for Sustainable Design (CfSD) and Regional Environmental Centre Hungary (REC). In the project a discussion platform for CSOs has been established. The idea of the platform is that CSOs can exchange information and discuss the role that CSOs can play in promoting sustainable consumption and production.

The specific objectives of the project are to:

  • Develop material promoting the concept of SCP and displaying the potential and role of CSOs in this field. The material will contain information on previously undertaken research, the status of relevant processes, programmes and action plans (especially the EU Sustainable Development Strategy and the SCP Action Plan) and relevant stakeholders and networks (especially concerning CSOs).

  • Identify and discuss patterns and sustainability impacts and factors that limit progress towards SCP in the demand areas of food, housing and mobility with the active involvement of stakeholders.

  • Identify and discuss issues in the areas of finance, technology, policy instruments, capacity building and education and behavioural change as factors limiting or enabling SCP with the active involvement of stakeholders.

  • Draw and discuss conclusions for the future research agenda, for the implementation of processes, programmes and action plans and for deliberative processes to involve stakeholders with a focus on CSO and similar organisations.

2.2. Materials and methods

The CSO Platform on SCP project focuses on three high-impact consumption areas, namely food and drink, housing and mobility. These areas have been chosen because they are responsible for 70 to 80 percent of the environmental impact of product consumption in the EU-25 (e.g. Tukker et al 2006). In practice, the project consists of three conferences with several workshops and an internet-based discussion platform (). The Internet platform offers a place for discussion and idea change between and after the conferences.

Figure 2. Main focus areas of the CSO Platform project. This figure will be revised for the final version.

2.3. Preliminary results and learnings

This chapter will be written for the final version of the article. It is based on the learnings of the two first conferences of the project. The first conference was held in Szentendre, Hungary, on October 2008, and the second one will take place on March 2009 in Wuppertal, Germany.


3.1. Objectives

The growing interest on environmental issues has encouraged the development of environmental calculators and internet-based tests, many of which focus on green house gas emissions or the ecological footprint method. Various sites also provide eco-tips on how to save energy or produce less waste for instance. There is no lack of information and consumers interested about the sustainability issues but the question is how to convert the consumers’ concern into real actions and changes in lifestyle.

The One did it service provides a platform for a community, which encourages to take small every day actions and adopt little by little a more sustainable lifestyle. The importance to closely combine environmental information and guidance on how to make improvements has been shown by Sutcliffe et al. (2008). They suggest that consumers are willing to act when the recommendable options are presented and can be easily adopted.

One did it is an online community and an eco-toolbox which members of the community can use to calculate the size of the ecological backpack of their lifestyle and get inspiring tips on how to lighten their backpack. The beta version of the One did it application was first launched in June 2008 at the Green Week in Brussels. Since then, feedback from users has been collected and the content, features, and visual performance have been developed.

3.2 Materials and methods

The core feature of the site is the ecological backpack test which estimates the environmental burden of one’s lifestyle including housing, energy use at home, mobility, food and beverages, household goods, leisure time activities and waste. After completing the test and registering, daily tips providing a means to make small eco-improvements in everyday life will be provided. The main features of the service are presented in figure 3.

Figure 3. The structure of the One did it service.

The eco-tip feature proposes new Dos once a day for registered users. After a user confirms having completed the Do it becomes a Did. Dos hold a value in kilograms and once the user accomplishes a Do the saving will be subtracted from the original backpack test result. The Dos encourage users for example to choose a vegetarian lunch, take public transport to work or to share books, tools and other sort of household with friends. To make the actions more rewarding, the total saving of the whole community, meaning all users together, is presented on the site. This makes the power of the community visible like the Sustainable Consumption Roundtable suggests: people must feel that their efforts are important and that there are also others acting the same way and this is why it all makes difference (Sustainable Consumption Roundtable 2006).

In addition to the test and daily eco-tips, social features are an essential part of the service. Features like groups and challenges with friends and groups will motivate users to actively take small everyday actions. This includes competitions with friends and groups about who is the most active resource saver. In the development phases to come, members of the community will be able to document and show others “how they did it” by for example sharing a photograph of the new bicycle they will use for commuting or presenting a good recipe which was a success when they were having a vegetarian day.

The One did it calculation system mostly uses material intensity data published by the Wuppertal Institute in Germany and studies conducted by the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (e.g. Kotakorpi et. al. 2008). In addition some individual case studies have been used as well. The database is under constant development process since the existing data is in some cases limited in its scope.

3.3. Preliminary results and learnings

What has been learned from the One did it service this far is that the visualization of the message and usability of the service is essential since various forms of media, messages and on-line services compete for consumers’ attention and time. There is no lack of the basic information concerning SCP issues in the media. However, to get consumers interested about the subject, involved and doing the correct things the information needs to be presented in a simple and entertaining manner. This is the strength of the One did it service.

Edutainment, combination of education and entertainment, in the form of a comic strip or animation for instance will provide an easy introduction to the issue. In addition to involving consumers, this material can be used by teachers too. A special teacher’s package will be provided on the One did it site too to help teachers to introduce SCP issues in their teaching.

For the final version of the article, we will provide Do’s top ten and other statistics from the service.


As discussed in this paper, the shift towards sustainable consumption patterns is needed. To promote this shift, the social aspects of consumption need to be considered when searching for means to communicate sustainable consumption and to encourage consumers to rethink their habits. Creative instruments are seen as potential tools for raising awareness and putting the lifestyle change into action. It is not only artists who can use creative instruments, but there are instruments for all actors of the society.

Since an increasing number of people is involved in online communities, these communities should provide an opportunity to promote sustainable consumption patterns, too. The One did it has shown that cooperation between experts and actors from different sectors can be a successful method when communicating the issues of sustainable consumption towards consumers.

More conclusions will follow in the final version.


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LOLA – One of the creative approaches to the consumer citizenship educaton

Iveta Lice and Vija Dislere

Iveta Lice

Latvia University of Agriculture, Institute of Education and Home Economics

Jelgava, Latvia Email iveta.lice@llu.lv

Vija Dislere

Latvia University of Agriculture, Institute of Education and Home Economics

Jelgava, Latvia Email vija.dislere@llu.lv


We live in a fast changing world. Economic and technological unity and diversity in the world, free market economy and globalization are the characteristic features of the modern world. The changes in the society influence schools and the education system on the whole. Today we need people who are able to react to the changes in life and society development. Such people are always active; they offer new ideas and original solutions. Pupils must be ready for life in all these fast changing circumstances. They have to recognize and evaluate the cases of social innovation for sustainable lifestyles. The role of a pupil and the role of a teacher change in this situation. A teacher has to find another approach, other more effective study tools and methods. One of such pedagogical tools for teachers and students is the Looking for Likely Alternatives (LOLA) project.

Consumer citizenship education in Latvia more and more attention is being paid to the combining of theoretical knowledge with the skill to use it when analyzing social innovation phenomena and solving practical sustained everyday life problems.

According to Thoresen and Consuner Citizenship Network (CCN), consumer citizenship education encompasses attitudes, knowledge and skills connected to functioning in today’s society. It is responsibility learning which aims to contribute to the individual’s ability to manage his own life as well as participating in the stewardship of the global society’s collective life. Consumer citizenship education is interdisciplinary and cross curricular (Thoresen 2005, 11).

The project Looking for Likely Alternatives (LOLA) is a pedagogical tool for teachers and students which assists them in the process of identifying, evaluating and documenting cases of social innovation towards sustainable lifestyles (LOLA Looking for Likely Alternatives). It was established in 2005 by Consumer Citizenship Network (CCN).

The Consumer Citizenship Network (CCN) is an interdisciplinary network of educators from 123 institutions in 37 countries includes UNESCO, UNEP and Consumers International who all recognize the pressing need for constructive action by individuals in order to achieve sustainable consumption and global solidarity (Consumer Citizenship Network).

The LOLA project allows teachers and their class to discover approach and give visibility to new sustainable lifestyles in their surroundings. It provides an opportunity to progress beyond the common pedagogical use of case studies and project work which tend to be limited to the immediate classroom context. LOLA core activity is based on scouting for promising cases towards sustainability.

The LOLA project goals are:

  • · develop, as a didactic tool to raise sustainability awareness, the process of searching for cases of social innovation;

  • · strengthen the processes of identifying social innovation, evaluating promising cases, clarifying the conditions requiring such innovations and reflecting on the consequences of such initiatives;

  • · improve the use of ICT and multimedia by teachers and students/pupils in their work of documenting relevant cases of social innovation;

  • · facilitate bottom-up social learning as a complement to traditional expert-driven learning;

  • · motivate teachers to involve students in learning to learn from real life situations. (LOLA Looking for Likely Alternatives).

LOLA project intends to contribute through education and awareness to a change in the currently dominant models of living, production and consumption, in particular giving visibility to new possibilities, through the examples of groups living their everyday life in a more sustainable way (Thoresen 2008, 7)

Following LOLA main goals the experiment “LOLA in Practice” were carried out and the emphasis was put on LOLA specific tool called “Teaching Pack” which was worked out in the project. It is a didactic tool to approach sustainability by investigating social innovation. The basic parts are “Student Reporter Book” and “Step by Step Cards” which provides and advances the teaching/learning process. “Student Reporter Book” is support the collections of cases by the students. It helps to arrange interviews, pictures, photographs, observations and different comments. “Step by Step Cards” are for both a teachers and student. Cars help teachers in teaching/learning process and organize case collection. They are a strong and immediate reference for students during the whole process.

The author has also used other parts of the tool “Teaching Pack” (as LOLA Exhibition, Work in progress), to prepare for the lessons optimally and to ensure valuable learning process. A didactic process to approach sustainability was carried out within LOLA project activities by researching social innovation in Jelgava Elementary School No 4, Latvia.

The purpose of this article is to determine a students’ skill to recognize and define the social innovation for sustained lifestyles, using the pedagogical tools advised in the LOLA project.


The approbation of LOLA didactic tool was done during 2008 during Home Economics lessons and pupils’ free time. 48 students aged 11-12 were invited to take part in this research. The different research methods such as: discussions, questionnaire, observations and an experiment were used in the current investigation. The research also included the study of the theoretical assumptions and self-reflection and experience and approaches to defining developing students’ creative action in pedagogy and psychology.

Consumer citizenship education is not only about instrumental competences - it is also about the merging of scientific methods and information with social values. Consumer citizenship education is multidisciplinary – its elements can be found in different subjects in the curriculum. Central topics of civic training, consumer education and environmental education provide the backbone of consumers (Thoresen 2005, 8-9).

Creative approach to consumer citizenship education is based on humanistic approach. It is human approach to the content of education and the process of implementation in every lesson considering pupils’ interests and abilities. It is based on the development of humanistic values, the increase of self-reflection, the understanding between a teacher and a pupil and an active participation of pupils in the study process. (McInerney 1998; Fontana 1995).

Home Economics is very flexible. The themes of its content include the necessary resources for long lasting human life – physical, economical, biological, organizational, social, cultural and historical. The main didactic principles of Home Economics point out active consumer citizenship education (Līce 2007).

The strategy for the research was carried out taking into consideration the above mentioned. The stress was put on the use of active teaching methods and pupils’ creative action. The research stages were specified taking into consideration terms of carrying out scientific research:

  • -research of the essence of the project and didactic tools;

  • -choice of the aim and objectives of the research based on local characteristics;

  • -possible variants of managing the research;

  • -pilot research;

  • -improvements of methodology;

  • -experiment procedure;

  • -analysis, conclusions.

Creative action

The maximal self fulfillment of each personality and the development of creativity has become one of the topical features of 21 century. There is a need for creative personalities in all spheres of life.

The inclusion of different creative elements in the study process advances the development of creative personalities. It emphasizes not only the ways of obtaining the vast information as a personal aim but it teaches the skills to use the information in recognizing and solving problems. “A creative personality realizes and follows its thoughts”: Sternberg R. (1995) points out. Liegeniece D. stresses that “Inner and outer action unite in a creative personality and it is not characteristic for all people” (Liegeniece 2003, 120).

Creative – creates original ideas, spiritual and material values in the thinking process (Steiner 2002). ). Csikszentmihalyi explanes: “In the most diverse cultures, the concept of creativity arises in myths that try to explain the origins of life. The Judeo-Christian tradition is typical in this respect: the Bible starts with an account of how the supreme being created a world from chaos and crowned his efforts with the shaping of human beings” (Csikszentmihalyi 2000, 337). In psychology, creativity usually refers to the production of any ideas, action, or object that is new and valued. A creative person is one who stands out from the norm by producing such ideas, actions, or objects (Csikszentmihalyi 2000, 338). Bohm when characterizing creativity says ‘Creativity is, in my view, something, that it is impossible to define in words (Bohm 1998).

Scientists believe that it is possible to develop a creative personality at all ages and in all subjects of the curriculum… It is promoted by creative action. Mental development gained during the creative activities can start highly creative potential development. LOLA project work is based on pupils’ creative action. The pupils’ action when collecting the cases of social innovations for sustainable lifestyle becomes personally significant with its experience as a revelation and critical thinking, where the evaluation by the help of reflection plays the role of self evaluation. The pupils are not passive observers. They solve the chosen tasks by advancing their aims. Kostler A. points out that “Original discoveries are as rare in art as in science. They consist of finding new ways of bisociating motif and medium” (Koestler 1964, 393). From the collection of the cases of social innovations in LOLA pupils obtain new experience and they take part in creatively in the further development of the new experience. A pupil takes part in creative action which develops the pupil emphasizing his individual characteristic traits such as: innovation, originality, untraditional solutions, courage, creative intuition. Steiner G. stresses that the creative approach is a kind of energy preservation (Steiner 2002).

Pupils’ creative and active participation is one of the main indicators of teaching quality. Wells G. points out its significance and believes it is necessary to emphasize it and include it directly in the curriculum instead of practical activities in lessons (Wells 2004). In this connection it is necessary to mention that LOLA project is based on pupils’ activities starting with observation (e.g.: identifying social innovation) and moving to solution (e.g.: evaluating promising cases), from the activities in the classroom environment (e.g.: aims and criteria in “Student Report Book”) to activities in the social environment (e.g.: interviews, photos).

Galperin P. does not deny ‘methods of practical activities and mistakes ‘ being used in acquiring experience because ‘mistakes are necessary we learn from them’ but he emphasizes that such action not always is rational. ‘It mostly happens without a control but conscience takes place as well’, says Galperin P. (Гальперин 2002, 256).Pupils’ practical action is very closely connected with their intellectual action. The author with her experience of pedagogical work and creativity observed that the pupils’ carried out LOLA project work with understanding not only using the method of trial and mistakes. Well G. analyzing Vydotsky’s ideas, points out the necessity to move the activities towards scientific approach. (Wells 1994)

Taking part in LOLA project gives pupils the sense of community. Communities develop their practice through a variety of activities. Wenger E. defines it as ‘Communities of practice’. “Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wangler ). Communities of practice have been around for as long as human beings have learned together. At home, at work, at school, in our hobbies, we all belong to communities of practice, a number of them usually. Communities of practice are everywhere. They are a familiar experience, so familiar perhaps that it often escapes our attention. Yet when it is given a name and brought into focus, it becomes a perspective that can help us understand our world better.

LOLA in process

Home Economics is one of the subjects where consumer citizenship education is done. The curriculum of Home Economics was restructured to carry out LOLA project successfully. Pupils could choose to participate in the project or not. Most pupils were willing and interested in taking part. Four groups of pupils took part in the project. There were 12 participants in each group, 48 participants in total. Groups were not big and it was possible to see the personal interest, activity and contribution of each member in the common work. The experiment was carried out during the lessons and pupils’ free time.

The copies made from the given Report Book helped to organize the further procedure and was the main tool in the systematization of pupils’ work. The didactic tool Step-by-Step Cards is divided in 5 steps. The action process moves gradually from preparing work to showing investigation results.

The steps are:

1. Prepare the didactic process

2. Organize the Report Book

3. Present potential cases

4. Preparate for the interviews

5. Show investigation results

The structure of LOLA project activities were worked out considering the didactic materials offered by LOLA, the previously determined stages of the experiment and the professional pedagogic experience of the authors (see Figure 1):




Introductory lesson

Explanation of terms: social innovation, sustainable lifestyle, initiative, creative action

New information

Pupils get acquainted with CCN and LOLA project

What is CCN? What is LOLA? Why is LOLA in our school?

What is Report Book? What is Step-by-Step Cards?

Report Book are given to pupils

The main steps of Step-by-Step Cards

The important tasks in every step are briefly analyzed. Step 1. Prepare the didactic process is analyzed

Pupils are divided in groups

Plan Calendar

The length of the project and objectives of every lesson are determined

The plan of lessons is worked out

Step-by-Step Cards

Steps 2.Organize the Report Book and Step 3. Present Potential cases are analyzed.

Work with Report Book. Work in class

Step-by-Step Cards

Step 4. Prepare for the interviews is analyzed. Interviews and investigation of social innovations surroundings

The documentation of social innovations. Work out school

Prepare the presentation of LOLA project

Step 5. Show investigation results

Preparing work

The presentation of LOLA project

The presentation cases of social innovations towards sustainable lifestyle


Figure1. The didactic structure of work with pupils in LOLA project

The following teaching forms were used in the project process: frontal, group and individual. The teaching methods vary depending on the activity structures of the current project. The main ones are: discussions, brainstorm, the use of the internet, table of ideas, drawing, photographs, design, presentation, interviews, role play, imitation etc (see Figure2).

Figure 2. Students’ discussions in group work within LOLA project

The questionnaire was carried out before and after the Project activities. Seven questions included in the questionnaire are the same. Its aim is to compare the pupils’ thoughts about cases of social innovation towards sustainable lifestyles before and after the implementation of the Project. There are four direct questions where pupils choose from the given answers: yes, partially, little, no. When answering these questions pupils give self-evaluation in a hidden form. Three questions are expanded, they ask to specify and justify. The additional questions were included in the conclusion questionnaire of the Project.


Observations, discussions and questionnaires carried out during LOLA project helped to analyze the project from the pupils’ and teachers’ point of view. The results of the questionnaire carried out twice show the pupils’ general impression about LOLA project. The answers to the questionnaire show that pupils’ opinion differs in the beginning and at the end of the project.

1. Can you characterize the essence of social innovation?

Only 22.9% of the respondents can characterize fully and 18.7% partially the essence of social innovation. They can do it. 41.7% have little skill but 16.7% cannot characterize it at all. After the Project activities the evaluation is different: 41.7% full characterization skills, 45.8% - partial, 12.5% - little and 0%- no skills. The drastic change in the results proves the significance of the ”Instruction lesson”.

The detailed percentage of answers is presented below (see Figuere 3).

Figure 3. Characteristics of the essence of social innovation

2. Have you had any interest in social innovations?

The pupils have not had great interest in social innovations before the Project. Only 25 % pint out having interest before (4.2% have it, 20.8% partially) but 75% - have not had it ( 35.4%- little, 39.6% - not at all). After the project the result is different: 91.7% have had prior interest (43.8% - have, 47.9% - partially), 8.3% - have not (8.3% - little, 0% - not at all). The results prove that the participation in the project has created an interest about the social innovations.

The detailed percentage of answers is presented below (see Figuere 4).

Figure 4.Interest in social innovations

3. Name 1-7 cases of social innovations.

The pupils have difficulties in naming definite social innovations before the project. After the project they were able to name different innovations. Although it was possible to name up to 7 innovations they named only 3. At the end of the project they could name up to 8. The results prove that after taking part in the creative action it is much easier to recognize and name the innovations. The main innovations named were connected with the world globalization, forest cut out, dry grass fire, garbage collection, plastic bags, electricity, cigarettes, vehicles, fires, chemical cleaning devices etc.

4.What are the social benefits of these innovations?

A few benefits in general phrases were mentioned in the first questionnaire. Some respondents were not able to answer the question at all. After the project the pupils were able not only to mention the benefits but also to explain them a little. For example, cleanliness, fresh air, protection of animals and plants, healthy lifestyle, protection, health, warmth, economy etc.

5. Have you ever thought about the social innovations in your surroundings?

Before the participation in the project 29.2% have not thought about it, 41.6% have thought partially, 22.9% have thought a little and 6.3% have thought about it. After the project 39.6% have thought about it, 56.2% partially, but 4.2% only a little. There are no participants who have not thought about it at all. The obtained data show that the interest of the respondents about the social innovations in their surroundings, in real environment and definite situation has grown during the project (see Figure 5).

Figure 5. Students’ thoughts about the social innovations in their surrounding environment

6. Why is it necessary to think about the cases of social innovations towards sustainable lifestyles?

General phrases and no explanations are given in the questionnaire before the project. For example, not to have the globalization, let there be peace, let healthy children to be born, not to have poverty etc. More definite cases are mentioned and explained in the questionnaire after the project. For example, the dry grass fire causes harm to the nature and kills small insects, birds and animals. It causes accidents to people. But still there are people among us who do not understand it.

The questions included in the final questionnaire perfected pupils’ opinion about the project.

7. Did you like the participation in LOLA project?

Observations show that the pupils needed many explanations about the cases of social innovations and it took some time for them to understand the necessity of thinking about them. The pupils often were indifferent and showed a little interest. Their interest increased during the project activities (70%).

8. What did you gained from the participation in the project?

The respondents pointed out: closer friendship with the classmates, meeting old friends, visiting friends at home, new and interesting information, getting to know new places in town, recognizing some cases, paid attention to and estimated some things which they did not recognize before etc.

9. Would you like to take part in such project again?

The pupils support such activities at school; they want to participate in them (77.1%). Only 12.5% of the respondents would take part if the activities would be only in the classroom but not out of school.

10. Did your parents show any interest in the project?

The pupils also informed their parents about the project activities. 43.8% of the respondents said that their parents showed interest in the project. They had discussions at home, the presentation was shown, parents helped to prepare and gave good advice. 39.6% only shared information, but 16.6% only has listened without discussions.

11. Which part of the Report book did you enjoy working on best of all?

Best of all the pupils enjoyed working with Story-board (40%), Draft description (38%) and Final description (22%). It was confirmed in the discussions that they did not like to work with Schemes and Personal comments saying that if they have written everything there is not anything to comment. They have had some difficulties with Interview guide because it was unusual and asked for creative action.

12. What parts would you include in the next Report Book?

Students’ mentioned - Draft description, Interview guide, Final description, - Story-board.

Figure 6. Presentation the cases of social innovations

The carrying out of LOLA project at school was not easy. It asked a lot of effort and well considered work from the teacher. The main stage was the elaborate preparation of the whole teaching process and creative approach to the didactic suggestions. Mainly it was connected with:

- inclusion of the project in the curriculum;

- well prepared first lesson in which the terms ‘social innovation’, ‘sustainable lifestyle’ were explained;

- creating of interest in pupils, motivation;

- out of school activities, because the pupils are not of age;

- pupils’ perception and interpretation of the use of different side tools: a camera, a computer, different materials of presentation etc. to parents.

Observations and conclusions during LOLA project activities:

- most pupils worked with interest and independently;

- at the beginning it was not clear why the project should be done at Home Economics lessons, why it is necessary, what will be gained etc. The interest was created in pupils, everything was explained and confidence was developed. Pupils found it interesting that the teacher herself participated in the CNN and LOLA and that the project procedure at school will be presented in the international project. The further work was done with pupils’ enthusiasm;

- pupils found it difficult to understand the essence of ‘social innovation’ using different methods - discussions, reading, observations, analysis, visual aids, exercises gave the conceptions of using the definite term. Other terms have been used in every day language. This part is very important and takes a lot of time. There was not enough time dedicated to this stage in the pilot research. The pupils have not understood it. It caused problems in the further project activities. This is a very important teaching part for which the teacher should prepare very well, show the visual aids and give the examples of the case of social innovations;

- the pupils liked the design of the cards – orange colour and cartoon drawings, especially Step 3 ‘Select most promising initiative’ where it is shown how to peg sheets of paper with ideas;

- LOLA project is suitable for 6 form pupils;

- didactic materials are flexible. It can be applied creatively as necessary in the situations ( pupils, classroom, time given). For example, not all the Step-by-step cards were used;

- Step-by-Step Cards are worked out skillfully starting from the simple (only recognize) to the complicated (analyze, specify, systematize, estimate) keeping to the principle of the creating approach. Step cards are visually different: The main cards are in another colors – orange and the cartoon drawings are big enough to be seen from the distance;

- the given methodological sample “Work in progress ” from the Report Book was very valuable in the management of the procedure;

The pupils’ thoughts and opinion expressed in the discussions as well as the personal observations during the project activities testify that the pupils have acquired interest about the social innovations. They have started to think more about the real situation in the surrounding environment. They have increased the skill to recognize and define the social innovation for sustained lifestyles, using the pedagogical tools advised in the LOLA project.


  • Creative approach to consumer citizenship education is based on humanistic approach. It is a humanistic approach to the content of education and its implementation process in each lesson considering pupils’ interest and abilities.

  • LOLA project activities are based on pupils’ creative action. The pupils’ activity collecting the cases of social innovations becomes personally significant with an experience as revelation and critical thinking where evaluation by the help of reflection becomes self-evaluation.

  • The research data show that after taking part in LOLA project the pupils can better characterize the essence of the social innovation (before 22.9% can do it and 18.7 partially, after 41.7% can do it and 45.81% partially), their interest in it has grown (before 25%, after 91.7%). It is possible to recognize the cases of social innovation in the surrounding environment. 70% pupils were pleased by LOLA project activities on the whole. Participation in the project encouraged closer friendships with classmates, old friends were met again and new friends were found, different situations were experienced that made the pupils thinks about values. The pupils would like to take part in similar projects. (77.1%). Also some parents showed an interest in the project (43.8%). The pupils best of all liked to work with Story-board (40%), Draft description (38%) and Final description (22%) from the Report Book. They enjoyed looking for the social innovations and describing them. They did not like making interviews.

  • The pupils have gained new experience, developed their creative action experience from collecting the cases of social innovation. They have moved towards the development of a creative personality. Being active in their own real environment, investigating the cases and thinking about them, they started to pay attention to their behaviour.

  • Report Book and Step-by-Step Cards – the didactic materials made in LOLA project advances the active study process. It emphasizes a creative approach to consumer citizenship education. It is suitable for form 6 pupils.

  • The didactic process organized together by a teacher and a student developed students’ skill to recognise and define the social innovation for sustained lifestyles.


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Гальперин П. Я. (2002) Лекции по психологии. - Москва: Высшая школа.

Beyond Words: Designing Rituals to Promote Sustainable Ways of Living Jan Lindenberg

In our current consumption centered society [1] several symbolic actions, known as consumption rituals have emerged. Such rituals, which stable and visualize the process of consumption in society, have been deeply researched and are well understood from the perspective of marketing science and psychology [2].

In a required shift from our highly individualistic and materialistic, consumer society to a more inter-connected, creative and post-materialistic society [3], our rituals would have to change accordingly: An aspired society, that appreciates the act of being over the one of having [4] will need different rituals, that visualise and aestheticise these new values, and that help to promote and stable such social practices like sharing, caring and (co-)creation.

The aim of this paper is to document the current state of the designing of symbolic (inter-)actions, known as ritual design and it's theories and methods. While this is still a relatively young field in design research, basic principles of the designing of rituals have already been explored in the area of fashion [5] and are intentional used in the context of education [6].

Based on these findings, the paper will furthermore try to highlight the different requirements of rituals that are designed to promote sustainable interactions, rather than basic ways of consumption.

Finally, the paper proposes the co-creation of such rituals that highlight the interdependent relationship of producers and consumers in sustainable systems, and that visualise the options both parties have to stable and adjust this symbiotic process.

[1] Slater, Don: Consumer Culture and Modernity (Cambridge, Polity Press, 2003)

[2] Gründl, Harald: Ritual Design. An Introduction (2007)

[3] Meroni Anna:Creative communities. People inventing sustainable ways of living (Milano, Polidesign, 2007)

[4] Badke, Craig; Walker, Stuart: Being Here. Attitude, place, and design for sustainability (Torino, in Proceedings of the Changing the Change Conference, 2008)

[5] Gründl, Harald: The Death of Fashion. The Passage Rite of Fashion in the Shop Window (Wien, Springer-Verlag, 2007)

[6] Manning, Kathleen: Rituals, Ceremonies, and Cultural Meaning in Higher Education (2000)

Personal data:

Name: Jan Lindenberg

E-Mail: jan.lindenberg@

Address: Design Research Lab, Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, D-10587 Berlin

Profession: Interaction Designer (Diploma), PhD Candidate and Research Scientist

Institution: Design Research Lab at the German Telekom Laboratories, division of Deutsche Telekom and TU Berlin – Berlin Institute of Technology.

Development the Feeling of Personal Identity as a Key Factor of Formation of the Citizen

Marina Marchenoka and Anna Tatarinceva

Marina Marchenoka,

Dr. paed., Researcher,

Rezekne Higher Education Institute,

Institution of Personality’s Socialization Research,


Anna Tatarinceva

Dr. paed, Associated Professor,

Transport and Telecommunication Institute,

Riga, atvia


The urgency of the present research is stipulated by the discrepant tendencies of development of the modern society and the complicated social situation in Latvia.

The crisis of personality is strengthened by the background of the social and economical crisis. A teenager, who is forced to reappraise his/her values and beliefs, comes into collision with the problem of the crisis of own identity and should look for the Self in the situation of instability of new reality in Latvia.

The Aim of the research is analysing of development of the teenager’s personal identity in Latvia.

The Methods of the research are:

  • the theoretical analysis of the psychological literature on the approaches to the problem of personal and social identity (James, W.), The Theory of Identity and The Conception of Psychosocial Identity (Erikson, E., Cooley, Ch.), the Theories of Structure and Development of Personality (Vigotsky, L.), The Conception of Self-Actualized Personality (Havighurst, R., Maslow, A.), The Empirical Approach and the Statuses Model of Identity (Marcia J.);

  • the empirical analysis of the obtained data related to the given problem.

The Results of the research are the following: data obtained and analyzed in the result of the theoretical analysis of the scientific psychological and sociological literature on the problem of the research with the help of principles of development and systematization and the scientific analysis of obtained empirical data allow us to determine the major ways of optimization of the process of recognition and development of the student’s personal identity, the adaptation to the Latvian community decreasing the existing difficulties of forming his/her identity.

Keywords: identity,teenager, citizen, crisis, Self, personality, community, adaptation, recognition, society.

1. Personal Identity as the Interpersonal Phenomenon

The urgency of the given research is determined by the increasing attention of educators, psychologists and sociologists to problems of the teenager’s personality, to the process of socialization and forming his/her unique life style where the recognition of own personal identity in the contemporary society plays the most significant role.

Modern society offers a wide range of alternatives for the young, but it is too complicated for teenagers to put them into practice nowadays.

The years of social, political and economic crises in Latvia led to washing out the valuable grasp which is necessary for forming and development of successful personal Self-identity.

Nowadays, when scientists of almost all spheres of modern life tell about the crisis of identity in our Latvian society on the whole, and the mass-media write about the change and instability of eternal spiritual values, their “usefulness” in the modern Latvian society, the problem of searching and finding the feeling of personal identity is the major problem of the teenager’s age.

That is why it is necessary to examine the problem of personal identity, first, in the theoretical aspect analyzing opinions of scientists about the forming identity as the interpersonal phenomenon and, second, to conduct the empirical analysis of the degrees of forming teenagers’ identity in Latvia.

There are lots of definitions of the personal identity of different psychological schools in the scientific literature. The idea that people should have freedom of will influences the world events in Europe from the very beginning of the XVI century. Humanism, the Renaissance, the Cartesian dualism glorified the strength of personality, consciousness, human personal responsibility.

The essence of the concept of personal identity was determined as “the process of realizing the continuity, identity in the time of own personality” in the philosophy of the XVII century (Locke, D., 1985; Leibniz, G, 2007).

The American philosopher James, W. expressed the essence of personal identity as “the continuity and non-discrepancy of personality” two centuries later, at the end of the XIX century. He described personality using the word “character” as the state, when a person feels own activity and vitalities in the most intensive and deep form, it is when the inner voice says: “This is the real Me” (James, 1991).

James distinguishes four forms of existing Me:

  • Material Me (the body, the property of a person);

  • Social Me (friendship, evaluation by others, prestige);

  • Spiritual, Inner Me (processes of consciousness, mental abilities);

  • Pure Me (feeling of identity).

James believes that the human personality is not the same in many respects because of many differences expressed in the state of a person, if he/she is hungry, or nourished, tired or relaxed, if he/she is young or old, poor or rich, etc.

But also there always are stable and significant clarified components of the human personal identity:

  • beliefs,

  • living goals,

  • the attitude to the Self, and to the society,

  • the system of values, regulating own behaviour, etc.

Besides that, changes of personality occur gradually and never touch the whole his/her inner essence at once, thus ensuring the continuity of the development of personality.

James claims that the term “personal identity” should not be understood in the sense of the absolute metaphysical unity where all distinctions are absent, because personality is always identical in the past and in the present as the personal identity really always exists.

According to Charles Horton Cooley’s opinion (1994),the problem of personal identityis tackledfrom the point of view of the Theory of Self-concept, as the set of own human conceptions about the Self, formed by the influence of people’s opinions around us.

This structure of “The Idea of the Self” includes three components:

  • the idea about how another person perceives Me;

  • the idea about how this another person evaluates Me;

  • the level of self-evaluation related to the evaluation by this person – it may be the feeling of pride or humiliation.

The conception “The Idea of the Self” starts to form from the early age of a person during the interaction with groups of “significant others”: these could be friends, members of the family, peers…

The numbers of scientists (Brakewell, G., Habermas, J., 1992) believe that the first psychosocial conception of identity was the conception of the Self by Mead, G. (1988).

Developing James’ and Cooley’s ideas, Mead distinguishes the following components of personality:

  • the impulsive Me, that is the source of personal development, changes, creativity;

  • the normative Me, acceptance of the group’s norms by the personality;

  • the Self as the personal Me, as the result of interaction between the Me and the Self.

Mead believes that the identity is connected with the personality’s ability to perceive the Self reflectively. It is possible, because the interactive subject anticipates the set of a partner and can perceive the Self from the partner’s point of view (the phenomenon of “taking of the role of the other”).

The term “identity” for the first time implemented by Freud (1996), became the central element of the original conception of identity offered by the famous American psychologist Erikson, E. considered as the founder of Ego-psychology.

Erikson, E. supposes that there are psychological stages of the Self’s development, each stage involving certain developmental tasks that are psychosocial in nature, and the individual sets the major reference points with respect to the Self and his/her social environment. He claims that each stage of development has its own parameters, and the various tasks are referred to by two terms – positive and negative, and development of personality continues for the whole life-time.

Erikson believes that the individual should solve the central task, which becomes the dominant one at each stage of the development (Erikson, 1996).

This finding of personal identity is so important that individual can choose to achieve the negative than to stay without any identity.

The individual faces the crisis which is expressed in the choice the teenager should do combined with the Self and the possibilities provided by the contemporary society he lives in. The teenager should clarify his/her own role as a member of this society.

This conception was prolonged by Havighurst, R.(1989),who distinguishes the following tasks of development of the teenager’s age:

  • Achieving new and more mature relations with peers of both genders;

  • Achieving a masculine or feminine social role;

  • Accepting one's physique and using the body effectively;

  • Achieving emotional independence of parents and other adults;

  • Preparing for marriage and family life;

  • Preparing for a professional career;

  • Acquiring a set of values and an ethical system as a guide to behaviour; developing an ideology;

  • Desiring and achieving socially responsible behaviour.

Thus we can see that the main tasks of the teenager’s age include cardinal changes that happen almost in all spheres of life.

The problem of division of teenager’s age into periods and determination of objectives was also put forward by L.Vygotsky, who saw the internal change of the very development as a sound basis for division into periods (Vygotsky L., 1984). L.Vygotsky believed that criteria for determination of specific periods in man’s development were the mental and social changes emerging for the first time on the given stage of the given age period. The teenager’s personality changes as a single whole in its inner structure and movement of its every part is determined by laws of changes of this whole. Thus for L.Vygotsky the central moment of development is the change.

The aspects mentioned above allow us to conclude that promotion of development is promotion of change, which is different at every specific age. On the one hand, the change happens on the basis of what has been already formed and achieved, but on the other hand, it is directed to the still absent things.

Teenager’s problems appear, when:

  • he/she lacks resources for realisation of the necessary change (either the things that must be developed have not been formed yet, or there is lack of what is called “image of the expected future”);

  • these resources are not used for some reason.

For successful realisation of the age change it is necessary to activate the resourceful mechanisms of the given age, which consist in using the available possibilities and their orientation on the aspects that must be developed.

The given paper considers the two most widespread lines of theoretical interpretation and empirical research of the personal identity.

The first can be related to the modern psychoanalytical movement, since the authors working in the given paradigm, base themselves on Erikson’s theory of identity and his conception of psychosocial identity (Erikson, 1967, 1982) and J. Marcia’s empirical approach with the statuses model of the identity.

The second line of the research is based on J. Mead’s conception of “Me” and unites representatives of the cognitive approach.

On a basis of the above-mentioned theories the concept of the personality’s identity (or personal identity) is defined as a set of features or other individual qualities, characterised by a definite stability or continuity in time and space, allowing to differentiate the given individual from other people. In other words, we understand the personal identity as a set of qualities that makes a person equal to himself and different from other people.

2. Empirical Research in Latvia

The aim of the research is:

  • to define the statuses of the teenager’s personal identity in Latvia;

  • to define the scale of self-actualisation of teenagers in Latvia.

The participants of the empirical research: pupils of the 7th -12th forms (in total 368 respondents) of various institutions of general education in Latvia.

The methodological part of the empirical research includes:

  1. Defining the statuses of personal identity at the teenager’s age [Marcia J. (1966, 1980, 1994)], based on E. Erikson’s (1996) conception of psychosocial identity;

  2. Self-actualisation test (SAT), theoretically based on A. Maslow’s conception of the self-realising personality.

  1. In J. Marcia’s statuses model there are four states (statuses) of identity:

  1. Identity diffusion;

  2. Foreclosure;

  3. Moratorium;

  4. Identity achievement.

For construction of the model two parameters are used:

1) Presence or absence of the crisis – the state of searching for the identity;

2) Presence or absence of units of the identity – personally significant objectives, values and


Table 1. States (statuses) of identity according to J. Marcia

Units of identity

Before crisis


After crisis


Early identity


Identity achievement

Not developed

Identity diffusion


Identity diffusion

Identity diffusion. Such a state of identity is typical for people, who do not have stable objectives, values and beliefs, and who do not attempt to develop them. They either have never been in the state of crisis or were not able to solve problems they had faced.

The states of diffusion, foreclosure and moratorium are topical for teenager’s age. The most progressive of them is the level of moratorium, and J. Marcia believes that it is a vital and necessary precondition for finding the personal identity (Marcia J., 1988).

Early identity (foreclosure). This state is referred to the person, who has never gone through the crisis of identity, but possesses a definite set of aims, values and beliefs. These elements are developed relatively early in life, not as a result of independent search and choice, but owing to identification with parents or other meaningful people. Aims, values and beliefs, which were accepted in such a way can be similar to those of parents and reflect parents’ expectations.

Moratorium. J. Marcia uses this concept in relation to the person, who is in the state of personality’s crisis and is actively attempting to solve it, trying various variants. Such a person is in the state of searching for information that would be useful for solving the crisis (reading of literature about various possibilities, talks to friends, parents, real experiments with life styles).

Identity achievement. This state of identity is reached by the person, who has gone through the period of crisis and has developed a definite scope of personally significant objectives, values and beliefs. Such a person is aware of what he/she wants and accordingly structures his/her life. He/she experiences his/her aims, values and beliefs as personally important and providing him/her a feeling of purposefulness and comprehension of life.

Illustration 1.States of personal identity of teenagers in the 7th-12th forms of schools of general education in Latvia

II. The next stage of the research is determination of teenagers’ self-actualisation. SAT measures self-actualisation according two basic and a range of additional scales.

Basic scales:

  • Scale of time competence (Tc), comprising 17 points;

  • Scale of support (I), comprising 91 points.

Additional scales:

Unlike the basic scales measuring global qualities of self-actualisation, the additional scales are oriented to marking its separate aspects.

  • Scale of values orientation (SAV) (20 points);

  • Scale of flexibility of behaviour (Ex) (24 points);

  • Scale of spontaneity (S) (14 points);

  • Scale of self-respect (Sr) (15 points);

  • Scale of self-accept (Sa) (21 points);

  • Scale of concepts of human nature (Nc) (10 points);

  • Scale of synergy (Sy) (7 points);

  • Scale of accepting aggression (A) (16 points);

  • Scale of contacting (C) (20 points);

  • Scale of cognitive abilities (Cog) (11 points);

  • Scale of creativity (Cr) (14 points).

Table 2.Determination of teenagers’ self-actualisationin Latvia

Scales of self-actualisation

7th form

8th form

9th form

10th form

11th form

12th form

Time competence (Тс) (17)







Support (I) (91)







Values orientation (SAV) (20)







Flexibility of behaviour (Ex) (24)







Spontaneity (S) (14)







Self-respect (Sr) (15)







Self-accepting (Sa) (21)







Concepts of human nature (Nc) (10)







Synergy (Sy) (7)







Accepting aggression (А) (16)







Contacting (С) (20)







Cognitive abilities (Cog) (11)







Creativity (Сr) (14)







Illustration 2. Determination of teenagers’ self-actualisation in Latvia


  • The Conception of Formation of Personal Identity offered by Erikson, E. further developed by Marsia, D., and his followers reflects the process of the development of personality occuring in the interaction with social environment as well as in her internal psychic world.Identity is the phenomenon located at the border of personality and surrounded world in this aspect.

  • The status of a teenager’s personal identity is closely connected with his/her ability to recognize people interacting with him/her, and who are personally very significant for them.

  • The higher definiteness of a teenager with the interaction with the outer world observed in the status of identity reached and predetermined is connected in the whole with a teenager’s deeper understanding the people who are significant for them.

  • The reached identity resulted in the total of the activity of a teenager and his/her personal perception of values. It could be further resulted in the own experience of enduring the crisis of identity that ensures more precise understanding of peers.

  • The ¼ part of the whole quantity of Latvian teenagers is characterized of achievement identity, more than ¼ part of the whole quantity of Latvian teenagers is characterized by the status of identity - moratorium and almost a half of them are characterized bydiffusion and early identity (foreclosure)identity.


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Marino Melissano, CTRRC, Italy

Today's health care environment is undergoing massive and rapid change that is having far-reaching effects on all consumers. Therefore as we experience a leaner and meaner health care system, it is more important than ever before that we sharpen our self-preservation and self-advocacy skills. Developing these skills may seem overwhelming at first, but they can be mastered in small pieces. And it is worth the effort, because utilizing these skills may make us more aware and more informed consumers.

We should all try to be more active and assertive, not passive. And especially, we should learn as much as possible about our health conditions, about what we buy and eat, and periodically seek updated information on how the food we eat has been produced, distributed and stored.

Food consumption patterns are changing in Europe in response to the year round availability of certain raw materials, lifestyle, media advertisements and consumers expectations for food having higher nutritional, functional and sensory properties.

The consumer demands for products of premium quality, convenient to prepare with fresh or fresh-like properties has led to an increase in popularity of ready-to-eat minimally or low processed foods.

With the increasing international trade in food and the fact that manufacturing sites in one country may provide raw materials to other manufacturers or finished products for large number of consumers living in importing countries, the harmonization of the safety control procedures and the development of quantitative risk assessment is critically important when new processes are introduced in the food chain.

The writer will analyze the results of the European project “Innovative non thermal processing technologies to improve the quality and safety of ready-to-eat meals”, focussing on the opinion of the consumers and their requests on the matter.

Illegally Sweet

Andrea Mendoza

Author: Andrea Mendoza

Universidad de Los Andes

Design Department

Carrera 1 N° 18A 10

Bogotá, Colombia

Tels: +571 2 59 36 23

+571 3394949



Have you ever tasted Colombian sweets? ... bocadillos veleños, arequipe con brevas, mantecada, liberales, dulce de mango, de uchuva, caramelos de café, cocada…?

Do you know COCADA? a traditional candy made out of coconuts? Coconuts, those nuts that grow in warm lands where also Cacao is grown? Cacao, you know, the main bitter/sweet ingredient to produce chocolate. Don’t you? Well, the bitter part of this sweet story is that for sure, all you know about Colombia is not related to its “sweets” but to drugs. So, when I mention Coco or Cocoa you might straightaway relate it, at least unconsciously, to Coca.

This paper aims at firstly, clarify, make a difference and explain why is it that Coca is not cocaine and that as such, this plant has lots to tell regarding consumer citizenship in third world countries, although not only there. Secondly, to develop the following idea: “sustainable consumption, in order to go really global, should -also- address the thin border between legal and illegal”, or better, we should tackle the topic of drugs consumption and the fact that third world countries produce much of what developed countries consume.

But such a discussion has been set on different tables at different times, the point here and now is trying to look beyond and see which could be the “positive” side of the legalization discourse. Our aim then, is working on the following questions:

_How can we help choosing sustainable lifestyles, which overcome the borders between what’s legal (in northern countries) and what’s not in the South?

_Could legalization bring about any kind of social sustainability? And

_Would all this fit into the long-term global goals for sustainable development?

Having set this on the table, it is important to deep in the idea that sustainable consumption should assess the responsibility that the developed world has with regards to the production of illegal matters, such as cocaine.

I will focus here on cocaine hence marihuana has had another path thanks, among others, to frankness, transparency, non restrictive policies -in countries such as Holland-, communication means and a very wide variety of users.

Coca is not cocaine

It is crucial to clarify a continuing confusion on the distinction between the Coca leaf and its principal derivate: cocaine. This clarification needs to be reached in order to repair a world-wide prejudice and to prompt at global level, respect for our cultural heritage.

According to Comunidae Segura (a network on ideas and practices regarding human and citizenship security) and to a study published by Harvard University in 1975 (Duke, J. ed. al): “chewing 100 grams of coca is enough to satisfy the nutritional needs of an adult for 24 hours. Thanks to the fact that Coca leaf contains calcium, proteins, vitamins A and E, and other nutrients, the plant offers even better possibilities to the field of human nutrition than it does to that of medicine, where it is commonly used today […] In spite of coca being persecuted for being the raw material of cocaine, scientists discovered that the sap in its leaves contains more then ten different alkaloid substances, and that cocaine strictly speaking amounts to less than 1% of that total. According to pharmacological studies carried out at the University of Caldas, Colombia, if consumed in its natural form, the leaf is not toxic and doesn’t produce dependency. It acts like a mild stimulant, improving attention and the coordination of ideas, akin to concentrated coffee”.

Why then the prejudice against coca?

Pien Metaal30, Political Scientist at the Transnational Institute31, replies: “The answer to this question would take up an entire book. To put it in very briefly, the prejudice against coca is basically due to racism and an ignorance of other cultures”.

Urban consumption, a possibility

For over a thousand years South American indigenous peoples have chewed Coca leaves.32 Nowadays its use is not just hidden in isolated exuberant parts of the South American Mountains; the Coca leaf is already arriving to the city markets.

Some weeks ago, there was this huge national gather of farmers at the Bolivar Square in Bogotá, the city’s main square. That market, called Mercados Campesinos is a project supported among others by OXFAM33, ILSA34 and the European Union, which aims are: promoting local experiences in the management of biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty, providing information, and promoting actions to face the GMO’s problems among communities and organizations. At a larger extend it aims at preventing farmers from running away and abandon the country side; an abandonment, almost a critical mass one, which has many roots: political, such as the fact that farmers stop growing food because they got tired of having the guerrilla passing by their farms and taking away all the harvest “for free” leaving them empty handed; facts such as fear because a lot of the country side, specially in the south of the country is ruled by narcotraffic, a mafia that forces population to grow coca; facts such as the will to go to the city to find the life that TV ads preaches everyone can have; and even because of natural reasons such as el niño and la niña phenomena, because global climate change also affects their harvests and living means.

Now, in this Mercado Campesino, I found a very relevant initiative regarding the topic that we are developing here. There was this one stall selling Coca Products.

The “manager” was a young man with a whole ancestral knowledge behind; he was coming from Bolivia, country in which the discourse towards legalization has moved far ahead. The guy was displaying all sorts of products ranging from coca tea to coca rub cream for aching muscles, passing through coca energetic beverage, coca soap, and a coca powder to be added to soups and juices. As seen, Coca uses range from alleviating hunger and thirst, to combat fatigue and the effects of altitude. Now along with coca leaves, one can also find at the farmer’s market: Quinua, Amaranto and Maka other endemic plants from the Andean mountains which happen to provide Omega 6 and lots of amino-acids, minerals and vitamins35 that are of utmost importance for the human diet. Now, the consumption of these products help preserving a whole range of daily practices and ancient cosmology lying as part of their day to day life, and this talks about other rhythms and ways of being and doing, different to those that contemporary sells us every day.

These products, apart from the Mercados Campesinos, are starting, again, to be sold at two or three shops in Bogotá but have a small success because apart from being banned from big supermarkets, the products are not enough publicized and many consumers see those as a mere tradition without any scientific base. That is why people with a rather privileged purchasing capacity, belonging to higher strata of the society, do not actually buy those, or if they do is just to try it as an exotic something but without looking all the connotations that this new market for Coca products has behind. The world that lies behind this new market, the one of Coca leaves is not the world of cocaine, it implies a clearer labour, which in the case of drugs production is totally dark and full of child labour, expropriation of farmer’s land, fumigation of fields done with substances that are harmful for the population (although the United States affirms that it is all ok36), etc. It is a market that gives value to our territory, our history, fauna, flora, diversity, and especially to our people, the farmers and their endangered roots.

Going global

An interesting scenario to address and work on the topic is the international arena. In that line: what if profiting the fact that as said above the Coca plant contains lots of nutrients, the strategy were to address it at an international level but on a radically different way to the one so far used? What if we could bring it to the next universal Exhibition in EXPO-2015 Milan, and set a rather different Colombian pavillion? Expo 2015 will be focus on food and health, (its slogan reads: feeding the planet, energy for life…), so what about having a Colombian pavilion dedicated entirely to that which makes us “famous”? What if we could show all the pros and cons of the issue and face the fame that we have got so far and showing that other side of the Coca plant?. It would not be a pavilion where among things like coffee, emeralds, typical dances, biodiversity or “sweets” we set a small corner to talk about Coca, no, it would have to be a pavillion, totally focused on the plant. Unfortunately, I do not see it happening. Not because, on one hand there is any mobilization towards the legalization of the matter, and on the other, because there is fear on the air…

Although the real fear should come from the direction in which humankind seems to be moving towards.

Having said that, the moment to take the topic down to earth has come. An example is needed; and here I will start with a personal experience: Having come back from Europe, after a couple of years studying abroad, I noticed that there were more foreigners on the streets. Looking back, that was not so common before, given the fame that Colombia had/has, as an extremely dangerous country, so dangerous that some governments of foreigner lands used to beware their citizens before their depart.

Finding much more tourists, is not bad, but I have always looked at these “intrepid” tourists as a hazard, given that Colombia with such a great deal of biodiversity, cheap food, wonderful landscapes and welcoming people, fulfills the requirements to develop an eco-tourism industry, an industry where in not well prepared countries, sets its population at risk to be spoiled; that happens already world-wide from porters, monks and kids in Nepal to indigenous in the Amazon. So the fact of seeing this proliferation of foreigners in my country provoked a slightly disturbing feeling in me.

Some weeks after my arrival, I learnt that a journalist had made a special reportage following the footprints of the tourist path of drugs. I knew that of course, if Colombia has fame because of something is because Cocaine it is produce there, but somehow I had never acknowledged that there was a “path of Cocaine”!, it might sound naïve but, given that the drug topic is so “familiar” for us, I have never got into senses of the fact that, just like in Italy there is the wine path, or in France, Quebec and Switzerland there are routes du fromage, in Colombia we have the path of Cocaine. People come from all over the world, especially Europe, the United States and Israel to “taste” drugs. And that is both, disrupting and offensive hence with which “ethical right” do countries like the United States claim that it is us who have to control Coca crops when they have not being able to control consumption up there?!.

Now, this goes deeper because here we are talking directly about sustainability, the ability to sustain life, the ways to reach well being and quality of life, not only for those who spoil their lives by consuming drugs but for those who produce it.

Legalization? Don’t

Usually, when one says to a child: “do not do this”, the first thing he’ll do is to defy the order. It seems that breaking the bans, disobey the law or tear the constraints that in a way or another threaten our freedom, are a constant in human’s behaviour. Promoters of legalization of tobacco and alcohol in the United States understood that long time ago.

In our case, we are talking about two kinds of legalization, one aiming at debunk the fact that Coca plant is, to say it briefly: “bad” and then give back its proper “legal” value; the other, moving towards a legalization of a substance that has lots to do with social responsibility but also with freedom and the fact that by having it illegal is nurturing the worlds of guerrilla and narcotraffic.

Cocaine has had gone so far in its “success”, but why? That is the first thing one has to ask. Now, the answer is way to easy to find: because it is illegal. And it is illegal from different perspectives: a. illegal from viewpoint of the people who grow it, but they know that their lands will be “harvesting” more money in less time, avoiding all the troubles that nowadays they face regarding home-economics, education and transportation means of local products such as fruits or vegetables.

b. illegal from the viewpoint of the drug’s dealers; but being it a prohibited merchandise, they can play with its cost and sell it at their willing price, and finally, most important, c. illegal from the “user’s” viewpoint for whom by means of Cocaine they enter a certain social circle, fight depression, and keep awake hence according to Freud in his work “Über Coca” (1884), cocaine is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant and a social “gadget”, meaning: “cocaine’s status as a club drug shows its immense popularity among the ‘party crowd37. What users cannot figure out is how addictive the substance is.

Now where did the “legalization” got lost if, “in 1885 the U.S. manufacturer Parke-Davis sold cocaine in various forms, including cigarettes, powder, and even a cocaine mixture that could be injected directly into the user’s veins with the included needle. The company promised that its Cocaine products would “supply the place of food, make the coward brave, the silent eloquent and ... render the sufferer insensitive to pain.”38.

With all this landscape it is far well understandable the fact that foreign addicts come buying cocaine to Colombia hence, there is no other county selling it so, so absurdly cheap.

Legalization, the main part of the discussion lies here. But as said legalization is difficult to reach. I do not see it happening in the next 80 years. Nevertheless a start has been rising in other latitudes such as Peru or Bolivia (who has sold it under formal terms to Coca-Cola company, hence a clue ingredient of the beverage was, or is the Coca leaf, they claim that is a flavor enhancer…) .

Amira Armenta, working at the Transnational Institute states that another possible argument to explain Coca policies has to do with the production of the soft drink Coca-Sek, made of Coca leaves just like Coca-Cola, according to her: “the indigenous population from the Cauca region reported that the multinational company would pressure to veto the Coca-Sek produced by the community. But in spite all this, in 2003, the Colombian company Nasa Coca won a Coca-Cola trademark infringement suit that tried to ban any publicity using this name […]. To prohibit Coca tea right now is to once again submit the communities to foreign interests”.


With this panorama it seems that the academia could/should start promoting the look towards the “illegal” in order to assess its worldwide relevance and tackle its possible transitions on a planet whereas the only thing that prohibition awakes is desire.

In this regard, Antanas Mockus39 former mayor of Bogotá used to say: “during my period as Major what I wanted was people acting as real committed citizens. For that, I convinced them to obey the law, even if this meant that I had to modify the law”. And that refers not only to policy laws but also to the laws that regulate the collective mind.

Now, could the illegality topic go beyond disciplines such as Law or Economics and start being addressed by the world of, for instance, Design? Could we ask citizens, just as the motto of an initiative called Dott, Design of The Times in the UK asked: “who designs your life”? Could we prompt self-responsibility and respect at both personal and social levels? In this regard Victor Papanek40, a well-known designer used to say: “design has become the most powerful tool with which man shapes his tools and environments (and, by extension, society and himself)”.

The above mentioned are some of the questions that we aim at leaving for your consideration. But furthermore, we could ask if Coca plant could be instrumental in the so called “sustainable development” discourse?.

To end up, there is to say that maybe all this is not even about the war against drugs… Maybe that is just a distracter, a very disrupting one, because maybe, the real problem lies where “Asian Dub Foundation” an English group of musicians, expressed in one of their concerts while visiting Colombia. They said: “Colombia: the developed world does not want to go to your country and help you to fight drugs… what they actually want, is your oil!”

Oil… maybe the problem is that hidden fossil treasure. But that is another story, the story of a civilization based on oil. A, nor bitter neither sweet element in nature. An element that for our civilization seems to be utmost tasty. Oil, petroleum, cars, commodities derived; things in which investments are nowadays done, investments in research to find it and produce more.

If all the money that is invested in the Oil industry or all the money that is invested in fighting drugs, fumigating and deviating the actual problems of humanity were invested in education, a big deal of the global troubles could be solved. Education aiming at: inform civilians regarding what Coca crops actually are; re-give value to ancient practices related to Andean endemic plants; open people’s minds to the possibilities that traditional plants offer, promote respect towards the unknown, and therefore fighting the deviating fears of our civilization.

But specially, an education which helps consumers in the process of attaining criteria and accordingly, adopt a self-position in front of the Coca crop, being it legal or not.


Altman AJ, Albert DM, Fournier GA. (1985). ";Cocaine’s use in ophthalmology:

our 100-year heritage";. Surv Ophthalmol 29: 300–307. doi:10.1016/0039-6257(85)90153-5.

Barlow, William. (1989). ";Looking Up At Down";: The Emergence of Blues Culture. Temple University Press p. 207. ISBN 0-87722-583-4.

Duke, J.A., Aulik, D., and Plowman, T. 1975. Nutritional Value of Coca. Botanical Museum Leaflets 24(6):113-119.

Freud Sigmund, (1980). Escritos sobre la cocaína; notas de esta edición de Anna Freud; edición e introducción de Robert Byck ; traducción Enrique Hegewicz.

Barcelona : Anagrama.

Freud Sigmund, (1984). El malestar en la cultura y otros ensayos. Madrid : México : Alianza Editorial.

LévyPierre (1994). L’intelligence collective. Pour une anhtropologie du cyberspace, La Découverte, Paris (tr. It. di Maria Colò, L’intelligenza collettiva. Per un’antropologia del cyberspazio, Feltrinelli, Milano, 1996).

Mockus Sivickas, Antanas. (1998). Civismo Contra Cinismo. Ed. U.Nal De Colombia.

Mockus Sivickas, Antanas (1998). Harmonizing The Divorce Between Law, Moral And Culture. CIDER Research Center Publications. Bogotá.

Mockus Sivikas, Antanas (1988). Representar y Disponer, Bogotá: Centro Editorial Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

Mockus Sivickas, Antanas (2003). Memorias Del Plan De Desarrollo 2001-2003: Bogotá Para Vivir Todos Del Mismo Lado. Mobieus-Strip. Bogot‡ (Colombia). Alcaldía Mayor.

Mockus Antanas Sivikas. (2005). Construyendo Ciudad. Corporacion Visionarios por Colombia.

Papanek, Victor. (1995). The Green Imperative. Published by Thames and Hudson, London.








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The UNEP Global Environmental Citizenship Project and the Participation of Latin American Consumer Organizations

Luis Flores Mimica


The Global Environmental Citizenship Project GEF is an ongoing pilot initiative for Latin America, coordinated by the UNEP regional Office for Latin America and The Caribbean, with the objective of generating greater public awareness, increasing levels of understanding of global environmental issues and mobilising support in the countries of the region for the objectives of the GEF thematic areas.

Since it was launched in 2004 in seven Latin-American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico), through different types of activities, GEC has been providing assistance for initiatives that build public awareness in order to ensure citizen participation, more effective decision making and valuable actions affecting the global and regional environment. According to its structure, project activities have been implemented and carried out through six well-established Latin American social networks, consisting of parliamentarians (PARLATINO), local consumer organizations (Consumers International), local authorities (IULA), educators (CEC-IUCN), radio broadcasters (AMARC - ALER), and religious leaders (CLAI), together with the environmental agencies of the seven pilot countries. In this context, the aim of this paper is to present some case studies of the work done on sustainable consumption issues by the network of consumer organizations and of the experiences of other two social networks (CLAI and CEC-IUCN) participating in the project.

Conference theme

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Case Studies of Consumer Organizations participating in pilot project in Latin America - GEC Project (/ciudadania/index.php)


The UNEP Global Environmental Citizenship Project and the Participation of Latin American Consumer Organizations


Luis Flores Mimica




Project Officer - Consumers International - Santiago Office


Presidente Juan Antonio Ríos 58, piso 7, Santiago, Chile


Tel. + 56 - 2 - 6640128 or 6380141


Viola Muster, Ulf Schrader

Corresponding Author:

Dipl. Soz.Wiss. Viola Muster

Technische Universität Berlin

Fachgebiet Arbeitslehre Wirtschaft/Haushalt

Franklinstr. 28/29

10587 Berlin

Tel. +49-30-314 73465

Email: Viola.Muster@tu-berlin.de



Corporate Social Responsibility sheds light on many subjects which have been ignored in conventional business life. Shortcomings with regards to sustainability get obvious and both company-related and society-related issues are taken into account. Employees and their concerns are considered by referring to labor rights and working conditions. It’s rarely seen that employees are perceived in their role as private consumers and customers (Berger/Kanetkar 1995), although private consumption is crucial with respect to promoting sustainability in our society. This paper is going to illustrate, why companies should promote sustainable consumption patterns of their employees (i) and how they become able of doing it (ii).

Sustainable consumption and companies

Even though the needed change of consumption patterns was already postulated by the Agenda 21 in 1992, some time went on until sustainable consumption became a serious topic in the critical science and research community. Meanwhile there is no doubt, that purchase, consumption and disposal of goods are crucial elements of sustainable development. Therefore especially two objectives are fundamental: sustainable products and sustainable consumption patterns (with regards to the Marrakesh-process 2002). That means that on the one hand companies need to integrate social and ecological aspects in their products, need to advance product innovations (Diehl/Schrader 2009) and are supposed to promote these products and information about sustainability to their customers. On the other hand it is necessary, that consumers ask for and buy sustainable products and that they adapt sustainable consumption patterns, which is about to become a mainstream trend (Fricke/Schrader 2009). Companies are also asked to cooperate with external stakeholders to banish unsustainable products from the marketplace (e.g. WBSCD 2008). Eventually many different actors like the government, NGOs or the media are able to influence both companies and consumers and they are powerful in creating supportive conditions, in which sustainable consumption is more likely. Nevertheless companies and consumers are the decisive parties and their performance will indicate if a society consumes responsible or not.

But companies’ contribution to help consumers to consume socially responsible is deficient. They are basically focused on the business-to-business marketplace (to realize sustainable supply chains) and the business-to-consumer marketplace, which are both external stakeholders. But concentrating on these groups, companies are neglecting an important internal fraction: their employees. Even though employees are the important target group for in-house CSR-activities (e.g. work-life-balance activities and life-long-learning, occupational health and safety actions and the enhancement of labor rights), sustainable consumption or rather activities to foster sustainable consumption patterns are disregarded. Apparently there is an incomplete attribution of “consumers”. Consumers are exclusively perceived as customers, therefore companies that promote sustainable consumption promote customers consumption patterns. Employees are left out. Previously it is hardly known, that any companies are engaged in promoting private sustainable consumption of their employees, although companies are perfectly able of doing so.

Reasons for promoting sustainable consumption of employees

As mentioned before companies’ performance is crucial for implementing sustainable consumption in our society and their activities can reasonably completed by promoting sustainable consumption of their employees. The CSR-concept is possibly much more plausible and holistic, if companies’ interest in sustainability is ‘all-inclusive’. Respecting employees not only as company members, but also as private persons with different private behavioral patterns can help to enhance companies’ credibility and reliability. It also points out companies’ employee-orientation. Meanwhile it’s certain, that employee-orientation is decisive to create employee satisfaction, motivation, commitment and in the end companies profit (e.g. BMAS 2008). Minding one’s own business by promoting sustainability nearby within its own company and with its own employees before starting to “heal the world” is also quite understandable. While promotion of sustainable consumption for customers is often related to promotion of companies’ sustainable products and therefore arousing suspicion that increasing sales is the actual objective, actions for the private consumption of employees are good chances to prove the fact, that companies are serious about their mission.

Furthermore activities, which promote private consumption patterns, are not only affecting private life. It is assumed, that private dispositions like attitudes and lifestyles affect workplace-related actions and the working performance. So the promotion of sustainable private behavior could also have positive effects on workplace-related behavior, because employees, who have internalized sustainable lifestyles in their privacy, are also probable to act likewise on their workplace. Since the organizational change towards sustainability can only be carried by all the company members, it is fundamental, that their values, attitudes and behavioral settings are corresponding. So organizational learning and individual learning of ‘what it means to live sustainable’ can only go on together. Moreover the organizational change needs acceptance and sympathy by the employees. Often organisational change efforts can bring about a range of unintended outcomes like distrust, frustration or even organizational change cynism (Stanley et al. 2005). It is assumed, that employee involvement and a participatory style of management can help to avoid these effects (e.g. Brown/Cregan 2008). Now promotion activities for private consumption can’t be realized without involving employees (even though wide differences can be assumed), these actions are a great opportunity to practice participation and to prove managements’ interest in employees’ concerns.

Organisational Learning leads also to another point, which clarifies the relevance and importance of companies’ promotion of private sustainable consumption of their employees. Companies are fruitful places for learning. On the one hand learning on the workplace is seen as a matter of course regarding vocational education, vocational training or internal and work-related learning processes. On the other hand companies are places, where different ways and forms of learning can be realized, for instance informal learning, learning by doing, learning through examples or learning by experiences (e.g. Bierema/Erout 2004). Both dimensions are rewarding to advance employees consumption behavior.

Firstly, actions of organizational education (e.g. instructions for in-house recycling activities, information about energy savings in the company, etc.) also hold an undefined potential to take effect in every-day-life-actions of the employees (e.g. Berger/Kanetkar 1995; Thøgersen 1999). So-called spill-over-effects are likely, if they have any importance or impact for private performances and can be easily transferred from the company-related situation to other circumstances. Spill-over-effects occur by chance, they are not intended on purpose and mainly they are an accidental byproduct of the organizational education for sustainability. But byproducts are not enough. These Spill-over-effects can help to understand the role of employees as vital catalysts between organizational experiences and private live. Moreover spill-over-effects point out that people change behavior, if new information or experiences they’ve made are sensible to them, easy to handle and useful for their private life. That means that companies’ promotion for sustainable consumption is prospective to be successful, if certain information and activities fit into day-to-day routines and are possibly useful to solve ordinary problems (e.g. high costs for energy, etc.). Therefore the promotion of sustainable consumption can also be seen as a chance to signalize that employees’ problems and uneasiness is taken seriously and that they can find assistance in the company if they need some.

Secondly, the variety of organizational forms of learning is fabulous to stimulate and set up the information and learning process. The workplace provides convenient conditions, which facilitate education and communication for sustainability. On the one hand corporate actions for sustainability are usually voluntary, therefore they can be a welcome change from normal working activities and possibly the willingness is higher than in any free-time-context to spend time and attention to these topics. On the other hand peer pressure and social expectancy can create an atmosphere, where people are more likely to approach new subjects, which they wouldn’t consider in their private life. Nevertheless there is the risk that external constraint (explicitly, implicitly or subconsciously) leads to reactance. Reactance appears if someone perceives a threat of his or her behavioral freedom, for instance when someone is pressured to accept a certain view or attitude (Brehm et al 1966). That must be crucially concidered, when certain actions are planned and organized.

The workplace is moreover an important hub, where people are influenced and inspired by each other. Experiences and information are exchanged (e.g. colleagues tell each other, how they realized energy savings at home) and it’s quite likely that companies’ activities for private consumption continue to have an effect later on, just because people talk about it. It is shown in many surveys (e.g. UBA 2008; Greendex 2008), that people are willing to change their behavior, but they are reluctant in doing so. They need leadership, information and support (SCR 2006) to change their behavior and companies are able to provide these conditions. It is extraordinary fruitful, if people know and watch other people, who consume responsible. The “I will if you will”-principle (SCR 2006) can be perfectly realized in companies, though colleagues, supervisors and chefs are all participating. Doing these activities together and having collective experiences is not only fruitful for team building and the corporate feeling; acceptance is much more likely, if people realize that even management is participating.

People are exchanging information in all social relationships. Therefore companies’ activities for private consumption are prospective to influence much more people than just their employees. Employees, who have accepted the importance and relevance of changing consumption patterns and who are willing to change their behaviour are vital multipliers to widespread the mission. Moreover private people, who tell their own experiences in their own words, are much more credible than organisations or companies can be. The word-of-mouth-influence is highly sufficient and established (e.g. Carl 2006). Employees are possibly associated with different social milieus. Therefore promotion activities are potential to be widespread in areas, where information about sustainability is rare or hardly existent. Additionally that can bring positive effects for the companies’ image in regard of being an attractive employer and being a responsible member of the community (e.g. Huck 2006).

Supporting sustainable consumption of employees is a new and innovative concept. Companies that realize the concept will be “first-movers” in this area and undoubtedly there are first-mover-advantages (e.g. image profits, positive publicity, etc.), companies will profit from (e.g. Lieberman/Montgomery 1988). But it is assumed, that in this context time-related competition advantages aren’t relevant. By contrast it is for sure, that first-mover-disadvantages are also of importance, because no company is willing to do voluntary actions if there are unknown difficulties and harms they can face. Therefore it’s crucial to explore this topic theoretically and empirically and to provide useful instructions for companies.

To sum up, corporate promotion of employees’ sustainable consumption can profit from the specific workplace situation and can bring about advantages for both companies and employees (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Reasons to promote employees’ sustainable consumption

Success factors for promoting sustainable consumption of employees

It is assumed, that there are certain determinants, which are crucial to set up successful activities or rather to avoid any flops.

Thus, at the forefront there has to be considered, that a direct and progressive interest, the company shows on employees’ privacy could meet with refusal or any kind of reactance. Reactance can strengthen an attitude or behavior that is just the opposite of what was intended. That means in detail that any failure by influencing private consumption patterns is a missed chance to promote sustainable behavior, but moreover it provokes the risk, that unsustainable habits and practices are reinforced or refreshed. So a responsible and sensitive handling by arranging certain activities is indispensable. Furthermore it is not only important to avoid reactance for these reasons, it is also essential to create positive attitudes and feelings. Gaining employees, who are sympathetic with the activities and pleased to get new information and experiences are much more committed and interested. So it must be the whole purpose of any activities generating high acceptance and avoiding reactance.

Firstly, it might be rewarding to identify different target-groups. It is assumed, that the employees are a heterogeneous group of people that might need different forms of information, support and participation. Findings from target group communication in the environment or sustainability education (e.g. Kleinhückelkotten 2005) can be helpful here. Combining knowledge from social-milieu-research (e.g. Sinus Sociovision) and social marketing (e.g. Kotler/Roberto 2002) makes possible, that activities are matched with the different needs of the target groups. But target-group communication for employees demands special consideration. As mentioned before avoiding reactance is of prime importance and therefore a selection and separation of different target groups of employees isn’t practicable. Firstly, because selection and allocation are supposed to limit personal freedom (and that can bring about reactance). Secondly, the mode of allocation couldn’t be transparent without being pretentious. Thirdly, data-mining needed to be extremly detailed and precise. Therefore the following is suggested: target group communication must be realized implicitly. After identifying different interests and requests of employees (e.g. by employee suggestions, idea managment, team meetings, questionaires, etc.) a range of acitivities must be designed. On the one hand they should cover different interests (variety of information), on the other hand they should provide different information contents (quality of information). Eventually employees are authorized to choose their favorite activities on their own (self selection).

Secondly, it might be relevant, that employees are involved in planning and organizing the activities. On the one hand participation is requisite to consider different interests and needs of employees; on the other hand integration and possibilities for decision making help to generate acceptance and motivation (e.g. BMAS 2008). Combining different instruments of employee participation is suitable to give a variety of impulses and incentives to get employees joining in.

Thirdly, it is assumed, that also stakeholder involvement is crucial to set up successful activities. Selecting stakeholders, who are in line with employees’ interests, can be helpful to encourage employees to participate; they can strengthen their commitment and their motivation. Stakeholders like environmental organizations or consumer protection organizations are working typically non-profit, they are experts in certain fields of activity and therefore their credibility and reliability is enormous. Companies that collaborate with these organizations profit by their positive connotations and strengthen their own image and goodwill (e.g. Berger et al 2006). Stakeholders can give the company a back seat while the activities are going on and employees might feel more comfortable. Stakeholder involvement is also appropriate to refresh and energize the promotion activities and to entrain the employees.

Lastly, basic conditions which are determined by the company, seem to be decisive as well. Company performance and core competences are relevant, because promotion activities for sustainable consumption take place in that context. So it is assumed, that activities are more convincing, if they meet, especially at the beginning, with company-related issues. Employees might perceive the promotion activities more credible and authentic, if they see a link to companies’ business activities. Moreover inconsistent and conflicting corporate actions should be identified and avoided. It’s an obvious taboo, that employees are promoted to consume sustainable, while for instance the company is ignoring environmental regulations. Ultimately it is important to point out, that all determinants might be interdependent and influencing each other.

Figure 2: Hypothetical Factors of Success


Empirical research will be conducted to validate the determinants and to create an instruction guide for companies that are willing to promote sustainable consumption of their employees. It was shown that companies are in principle qualified to help their employees to consume socially responsible, because the workplace can be a fruitful enabling system, in which information, reflection and learning for sustainability is possible. Companies’ contribution to promote sustainability can be reasonably extended by focusing their employees.


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Understanding the role of Printed Media in the social amplification of food risk during the new millennium

Ana Pinto de Moura and Luís Miguel Cunha

Ana Pinto de Moura1,2 and Luís Miguel Cunha1,3

1REQUIMTE, University of Porto, Portugal.

2Universidade Aberta, Porto, Portugal.

3SAECA, Faculty of Sciences, Univ. Porto, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal,

corresponding author e-mail: lmcunha@fc.up.pt

Keywords: Cover news; risk perception; social risk amplification

1. Introduction

Since the mid 1980s, most Western European countries have faced various food safety incidents (e.g., BSE, dioxin contamination) that had led to increasing public unease about health and safety of modern methods of food production (Knowles et al., 2007). Some of these food safety incidents have had an international impact (e.g., BSE, dioxin contamination and avian influenza epidemic), while others have been contained within national boundaries, as it was the case of the nitrofuran residues in Portuguese poultry during 2002 2003 (Vaz and Nunes, 2007). As a result, food scares about a particular food create adversely short-effects on preferences and consumption of that food that can more widely affect the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the food supply chain (Latouche et al., 1998; Verbeke and Viaene, 1999; Verbeke, 2001; Verbeke and Van Kenhove, 2002; Roosen et al., 2003; Llyond et al., 2006; Angulo and Gil, 2007).

In fact, it is well established that experts and lay people tend to perceived food risks differently (Slovic, 1987; Hansen et al., 2003; de Boer et al., 2005; Jensen et al., 2005, van Kleef et al., 2006). Scientists define risk in narrow quantitative terms: they would consider the nature of harm that would occur (the hazard), the probability of that will occur (the risk) and the number of people who may be affected (the exposure). The statistical treatment of risk derives an expected average value for a risky situation based on the sum of the products of possible outcomes and their respective relative probabilities of occurrence. On the contrary, consumers operate with a much broader concept of risk, incorporating sensitivity to a wide range of hazard characteristics which form the basis of consumer concerns (Jensen et al., 2005; de Boer et al., 2005; McCarthy et al., 2006).

According to the psychometric paradigm, the risk is subjectively defined by individuals who may be influenced by a wide array of psychological, social, institutional and cultural factors (Slovic, 1993). This approach indicate that every hazard has a specific unique pattern of social and psychologically determined characteristics (denominated “risk characteristics”) that are related to the perceptions of risk (Fischhoff et al., 1978; Slovic, 1987, 1993). Those include the degree to which exposure to hazard is voluntary, controllable, known to science, known to those exposed, familiar, dreaded, certain to be fatal, catastrophic and immediately manifested (Slovic et al., 1987). They tend to be highly correlated and can be represented by three main factors: “dread”, “unknown” and “the number of people exposed” to the hazard or “extent” (Fischhoff et al., 1978; 1981; Slovic, 1987).

An important determinant of risk perception is information about the risk. The risk events will be largely irrelevant or localized in their impact unless people observe and communicate them to others (Kasperson etal., 2003). According to Frewer etal. (1993/1994) the media are among the most important factors affecting the way risk communication is transmitted and perceived. Where there is no direct personal experience, information about hazards, individuals look for simplifying summaries from trusted sources: the news and informal personal networks (Kasperson etal., 2003). In fact, for most members of the general public, the mass media, particularly via newspaper and television coverage, are a primary source of information about risk related matters. For instance, out of the list of 14 different sources on healthy eating, “TV/radio programmes” (43.8 %) was the second information source selected by Portuguese consumers, and “newspaper articles” followed on seventh position (Moura etal., 2008).

Although media are identified as important in the growing field of risk theory there has been a lack of detailed analysis of their role in the communication process (Eldridge and Reilly, 2003).

2. Media coverage of food hazards

At the very least it is obvious that media coverage of risk is selective: not all risks can be in the news all of the time. Ideally, the media plays the role of intermediary, facilitating communication among various societal stakeholders and providing counter viewpoints from different sides of a debate. Likewise, it can be viewed as a vehicle for informing the public on scientific nuances and complexities of the food safety system. However, journalists and press editors adjust the story frame to their ideology, professional and knowledge limitations, as well as to time and space constraints (Horning, 1992). Writing about science and technology can thus emphasize scientific facts, their socio-political implications, environmental risks, human health concerns. Likewise, through framing, media highlight certain points of view and marginalize or ignore others, defining occurrences and explaining how they are to be understood (Horning, 1993). That is why Kasperson etal. (1988) identified mass media as one of various “amplifications stations” that receive, interpret and pass on risk signals, transforming the original risk signal. To this extent, it is natural to hypothesise that some specific media biases could be in place and establish relationships between the coverage and the content of newspapers and the citizens’ perceptions regarding food hazards (Frewer etal., 1993/94; Frewer etal., 2002; Kehagia and Chrysochou, 2007; Marks etal., 2003; Vilella Vila and Costa Font, 2008).

Individual stories will attract attention when major organizations or governments come into conflict over the extent of the hazard or simply when there is disagreement between various actors in the risk debate (Frewer etal., 2002; Frewer etal.; 1993/1994). As danger is seen as dramatic, it is implicit that focused hazard reporting will occur in the media. However, risk is a concept based on predicting the future that conflicts with the basic news principle: the “day event” emphasis. Many potential hazards will not be reported as risk stories unless or until they are manifested in some way. The lack of coverage on BSE from 1991 to 1995 in the United Kingdom is partly explained by the fact that certain hazards are seen very distant (Eldridge and Reilly, 2003). On the other hand, scientific uncertainty (“virtual risk”) is less newsworthy than certainty (definitive findings) and moderate opinions are less attractive than “extreme” points of views. In the same way, hazards that consumers feel that they cannot protect themselves, as in the case of genetically modified foods, where traceability of ingredients, and labelling practices are not clear for consumers, may be amplified. In this case, the hazard itself is perceived to be under societal, rather than individual, control (Frewer, 2003). However, the effects of the media tend to be temporary and limited in magnitude. According to Kalaitzandonakes et al. (2004) in a case based on a continuous media coverage there is no media effect; in contrast, while in a case of acute and brief media coverage the media effect is substantial. Additionally, the specific media impact may depend on the specific dynamics of the press media in a specific society.

The aim of this exploratory study is to characterize the nature of the reporting of food related hazards in cover news from the major daily Portuguese newspaper.

3. Methodology

The selection of food related news on potential hazards was based on the analysis of cover contents from the national edition of the most selled Portuguese daily newspaper: Jornal de Notícias – JN. For ease of reporting, hazards are categorised into four types: chemical (e.g., nitrofuran in poultry or arsenic in tap water), biological (e.g., animal disease related, such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy – BSE - via new variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, microbiological food contamination by Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli or avian flu), technological (e.g., GMOs), and related to dietary behaviour/lifestyle hazards (e.g., excessive intake of alcohol, sugar, salt or fat, or a sedentary life).

The present study refers to front covers of newspapers published from January 1, 2000, to December, 31, 2006, with a total of 2,557 consulted newspapers covers.

3. Results and discussion

Covers of newspapers under analysis yielded 200 cover news headlines on food related hazard, representing 7.8 % of printed covers. Annual frequencies of such news, during the seven year period are distributed without sharp variations. However, food hazards news drew more attention during the years of 2001 and 2003, representing 10.7 % and 9.6 %, respectively, of the total annual newspaper covers (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Annual frequency of food hazards related cover news at JN newspaper, from 2000 to 2006.

Globally, the vast majority of the selected news was related to biological hazards, followed by lifestyle hazards (see figure 2). Circulation of technological hazards at cover level may be considered as inexistent, with one single cover news throughout the entire period (2000-2006). Cover news headlines reported different hazards separately and rarely in conjunction with other hazards.

Figure 2: Grouping of food hazards related cover news published at JN, by hazard type during the whole study period (2000-2006).

Considering time variance among food hazard types, on a year basis, it was observed that the most read Portuguese newspaper tended to express in their covers biological hazards more broadly along the study period. The same applies for lifestyle hazards: continuous coverage during 2000 2006 period, although with less intensity (see figure 3).

Figure 3: Yearly distribution of cover news published in JN on different food hazard types during 2000 2006.

Additionally, one may observe that the 2001, 2003 and 2005 peaks in the frequency of cover news were closely associated with specific hazards (see figure 4): BSE in Portugal during 2001 (from December 2000 to March 2001); nitrofurans in Portuguese poultry at 2003 (February to May), and avian flu at 2005 (November 2005 to March 2006). More specifically, these were clearly related to different food crisis. Similar relations were found in the U.S. (Singer and Endreny, 1993) and in Greece (Kehagia and Chrysochou, 2007) for different food crisis.

Figure 4: Monthly frequency of food hazards related cover news at JN during 2000 2006.

Moreover, it was interesting to note that in an almost “chronic” manner, hazards such as excessive eating, drinking of alcohol and contaminated tap water were reported throughout the entire period with a total of 22 (11.0 %), 19 (9.5 %) and 16 (8.0 %) cover news, respectively, and a maximum monthly frequency of 2 cover news. An important factor regarding the first hazard is that the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Portugal has been increasing, with values of 44 % for men and 46 % for women (Carmo et al., 2000). In addition, the prevalence level of overweight and obesity in children and young people is one of the highest in Europe (Lobstein et al., 2004 found figures similar for other countries of the southern Europe), considering that around one third of Portuguese young children are overweight or obese (Padez et al., 2004). Moreover, although the level of alcohol consumption is failing in Portugal since mid to late 1980s, according to WHO (2002) the 12.5 litres of pure alcohol per person in 2001 exceeded in more than 15 % the EU-25 average alcohol consumption (10.8 litres of pure alcohol per person). These are clear society concerns.

5. Conclusions and further research

This exploratory analysis shows that different food hazards are differentiated in the way they are reported in cover news from the most selled newspaper in Portugal, with biological and lifestyle hazards presenting a more extensive coverage, while technological hazards, such as GMOs have little or no coverage.

From the present analysis it is clear that food hazards are under constant attention of the media, nevertheless, one may identify two major patterns on their coverage. One directly related with food crisis, such as BSE in cows, nitrofurans in poultry or the avian flu, all having a direct impact on consumer behaviour with a marked decreased on the consumption of foods related to the hazard under scrutiny. A second, showing lower frequencies but with periodic coverage, in an almost “chronic” fashion, mainly related to lifestyle hazards such as eating disorders and excessive alcohol consumption, having a direct impact on consumer attitudes towards food and being perceived as some of the most dreaded hazards (Moura et al., 2009).

Reported results are part of an ongoing project regarding printed media coverage of food hazards. These preliminary results, focusing on the headline contents of cover news are of great interest, but of limited scope. Further information will be unveiled with the results from the analysis of the full article contents.


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Consumer Empowerment in the Digital Era

A case study of ICT-enabled processes in South Africa and Norway

Martin Nkosi Ndlela,

Hedmark University College

Faculty of Business Administration,

Social Sciences and Computer Science

Post Box 104

N-2451 Rena


Telephone: +47 62 43 05 96

Email: nkosi.ndlela@hihm.no


The world market has undergone major transformations in the past decades, a process which has seen the convergence of industrial structures with markets through economical and technological dimensions. New technologies have become major drivers in the creation of multimedia markets and consumption platforms. The increasing use of digital technology, particularly the Internet has been described as an enabling factor for consumer empowerment by giving consumers access to information and providing deliberative possibilities through participation in knowledge sharing. Internet technology has communication aspects embedded on it. Internet-based knowledge systems aided by social software and collaborative software have the dimensions of interactions and participation at the core of their functionality. Drawing on material from the analysis of web-based consumer-portals in Norway and South Africa, and combining theories from the field of consumer behaviour and communication management, the paper discusses how the improved information architectures and information-processing capabilities enabled by the Internet allow for new forms of consumer participation. As shown through the analysis of consumer complaint forums, discussion forums, levels of participations and frequency of responses in two diverse countries, the paper argues that Internet has an enabling function as both a platform and a medium. Aspects of consumer empowerment arise from consumers’ enhanced ability to access, understand and share information. Such knowledge sharing influences consumer behavioural changes since consumers with more knowledge will feel more powerful, and hence are capable of making better informed decisions. Notwithstanding these assertions of consumer empowerment, Internet also has a disempowering and differentiating effect on consumers. The papers argues that the most significant challenge faced by the consumers in the era of web-based marked is either the scarcity or abundance ‘information flood’, duplicate sources, authenticity and validity. Information processing is also confronted by a number of militating factors which may either enhance or diminish consumer empowerment.


Literature is abounding with theories and perspectives on consumer society, behaviour and consumer empowerment. Discussions of empowerment invariably encounters problems associated with the illusive concept of power. Depending on the school of thought consumer power has been perceived differently with divergent formulations. As Denegri-Knott, Zwick, and Schroeder (2006) correctly point out, ‘it is problematic for any research agenda seeking to understand consumer empowerment, because observations linked to whether or not consumers are empowered are irrevocably wedded to the starting definition of power supporting such claims”. Conceptualisation of power is divergent, representing the different disciplinary approaches. Traditionally the notion of power has been used to explain the nature and origin of consumer demand and to justify the role of marketing in satisfying it (Smith, 1987) quoted in (Denegri-Knott, Zwick, & Schroeder, 2006). The Frankfurt school, represented by Adorno, Marcuse and Horkheimer, for example sought to expose the powerless nature of consumers seduced by the pleasures of consumption. For Marcuse, technical progress extended to a whole system of domination and coordination (Marcuse, 1964, p. xiii). Technology is thus incorporated into the systems of domination together with the mass media. Consumption becomes a strategy of power (Hardt, 1992). While the Frankfurt School saw consumers as weak and entrapped in the system of domination, postmodern researchers tend to theorise consumption as a site of resistance and emancipation (Fiske, 1989). Consumer empowerment takes on many different guises depending on the intellectual tradition and conceptual lens used to identify, delimit and measure power. Denegri-Knott, Zwick, & Schroeder (2006) delineate three theoretical perspectives – based on political and social theory and existing concepts in consumer and marketing research. These perspectives are:

(1) The consumer sovereignty model;

(2) The cultural power model; and

(3) The discursive power model (Denegri-Knott et al, 2006)

These models of consumer power are appropriate for explaining consumer empowerment phenomenon in South Africa and Norway. From the perspective of sovereign consumer model, the consumer is empowerment when he or she is free to act as a rational and self-interested agent and grows from the combination of consumers’ resources and skills in order to compel producers to produce more efficiently, offer better and cheaper products, and increase social welfare (Penz, 2007). An example of such consumer sovereignty is consumer boycotts. Consumer boycotts are active forms of resistance with explicit causes, such as affecting corporate policies and damaging the company’s stock (Penz, 2007). From the perspective of the cultural model of power, consumer empowerment is manifested in the creative adaptations and manipulations of the marketer-intended meanings and uses of products and advertisings (Denegri-Knott, Zwick, & Schroeder, 2006). In this perspective consumers manage the disciplinary power of the market by expressing resistance in consumption (Penz, 2007), and they are viewed as active, creative, and agentic (Firat & Dholakia, 1998). Consumer power consists of the creative adaptations and manipulations of the producers’ intended meanings and use. From the perspective of discursive power model power is defined as the ability to construct discourse as a system in which certain knowledge is possible, while other knowledge is not (Denegri-Knott, Zwick, & Schroeder, 2006). Hence empowerment in the discursive model is conceptualised as the ability of the consumer to mobilize discursive strategies to determine what can be known and what action can be undertaken in any particular field of action (Denegri-Knott, Zwick, & Schroeder 2006: 963). Thus the discursive model builds on the interactions and exchanges between producers and consumers (Penz, 2007). The interaction is less confrontational but rather more inclusive and facilitates the creation of knowledge. This perspective draws from Michel Foucault’s conception of power/knowledge.

Empowerment should also be understood as a process or an outcome or both. As a process, “empowerment requires mechanisms for individuals to gain control over issues that concern them, including opportunities to develop and practice skills necessary to exert control over their decision making” (Pires, Stanton, & Rita, 2006, p. 938). Empowerment as an outcome is a subjective view where “empowered individuals would be expected to feel a sense of control, understand their socio-political environment, and become active in efforts to exert control (Zimmerman et al, 1998, p. 6) (quoted in Pires et al 2006, p 938). The questions that need to be addressed in order to understand consumer empowerment as a process or outcome would therefore be whether new Internet-based technologies are an enabling factor for such processes.


Digital technologies, especially the Internet-centred technologies, have been described as communication enabling and conversational technologies. The intensity and global scale of connectivity generated by the widespread adoption of information and communication technologies by suppliers and consumers alike is reconfiguring the relations of power between the consumers and suppliers, thereby adding new dimensions on consumer empowerment. Even though general claims that consumers are empowered by the Internet (Pitt et al, 2002) are difficult to measure due to inadequacies in conceptual and analytical tools (Denegri-Knott, Zwick, & Schroeder, 2006), it is still possible to extrapolate areas where consumer empowerment is evident. The increasing use of information and communication technologies (ICT), especially the Internet is shifting market power from suppliers to consumers (Pires, Stanton, & Rita, 2006). From marketing perspectives, the Internet has reduced the costs of transmission, transaction and intermediation. The structure of the ICTs overcomes the barriers of time and geographical distance in international marketing and reduce the costs in terms of both time and money.

Technically speaking ICTs enable accessibility to vast amounts of information stored in the globally networked computer databases. These technologies make possible the storage and retrieval of large amounts of information. They are enablers for information availability, its accessibility and its affordability to many. From a consumer perspective access to information about the market is significant as it widens the available choices. As Morrisey (2005) has argued,

“access to more information about the market is complemented by larger choice sets due to the global reach of the Internet, by the ability to exchange information and opinion with peers, to change their own perceptions and behaviour in a rapid and largely unchecked manner, and to define brands on their own (quoted in Pires, Stanton, & Rita, 2006: 937)

Access to information is a prerequisite to knowledge acquisition and consumers with more information will feel more powerful (Foucault, 1972). Because knowledge is power, ‘customer empowerment’ reflects consumers’ enhanced ability to access, understand and share information (Pires, Stanton, & Rita, 2006, p. 937). Empowerment through knowledge has implications on the discussions. Discussion forums have a significant presents on the Internet, a medium which facilitates vertical and horizontal communications, permits dialogue and provide feedback mechanisms. The computer technologies and software enable citizens to participate directly in call-in talk shows, interact with producers, public offices and other consumers with similar interests. However, because “consumer empowerment derives substantially from the knowledge that consumers appropriate from the Internet and from other sources, the extent of empowerment will depend on their ability to discern potentially useful information for evaluating competing service-products on offer, and satisfy their needs with the least waste of time and effort (Pires, Stanton, & Rita, 2006).

The Internet presents genuine opportunities for consumer empowerment process. These opportunities are exemplified in the wide range of tools and applications collectively referred to as social software and collaborative software. These applications encompass a wide range of tools that allow users to communicate and interact, facilitating data capture, storage, sharing and presentation. They facilitate connections between users, mechanics of conversation, and real-time communication. These communication applications are used for instant messaging, text chart, Internet forums, bulletin boards and blogs. Social software allows consumer to interact and share data, link people with shared interests, create deliberative social networks, which in turn builds into knowledge and learning. Constructivists learning theorists such as Vigotsky argue that ‘social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development.’41 Peer collaboration and the process of expressing knowledge and conversations increase the possibilities for the refinement of knowledge.

The case of Norway

The intensity of household Internet connectivity in Norway is indicative of the widespread adoption of technology. Norway has technically fully become an information society, with widespread everyday usage of Internet and e-mail. According to the statistics from Statistics Norway, 86 % of the households in Norway have PC and 84 % have Internet subscriptions. 70 % of Internet users used the Internet in contact with the public authorities in the first quarter of 2008. Information and communication technologies have become an integral part of the Norwegian business, the public sector and the consumers. The government policy directives on ICT’s have ensured that their usage is in commensurate with welfare state system and policies of bringing the gap between citizens and ensuring corporate responsibility.

Consumer empowerment through knowledge and knowledge sharing has become an integrated facet of Norwegian media and the education sector. Packaging information for consumer is regarded as one of the most important social responsibility elements in the media. Facilitations of consumer discussion forums through the media’s Internet portals achieve a synergy effect in which consumers are not only consumers for pre-packaged information but are also active in the generation of such information. Consumer journalism has exploited the Internet mediums characteristics to make the most of consumers’ demands and complaints. The growth of consumer participation/empowerment in Norway can be inferred from Internet statistics. There has been a remarkable increase in numbers of websites dealing with consumer issues ranging from consumer forums hosted in company websites, consumer watchdogs, interest groups, lobby groups and media organisation. Taken together these portals continually set the premises for consumer-producer relations. The portal of interest in this comparative study is the www.diskusjon.no, owned by one of the three largest media conglomerates in Norway, Edda Digital, a division of Edda Media. The discussion forum has as of February 2009, 166350 registered members and 13015736 contributions in virtually all categories from business to games. The main objective of the discussion forum is to put together all information that pertains or concerns consumers, by linking users to specialised forums and other electronic outlets. Registered users are compelled to follow the Norwegian Ethical Code of Conduct for Journalists. These guidelines are meant to encourage and sustain a higher degree of seriousness in the discussion forum. It also draws a line between ordinary comments and commercial responses which indirectly promote a company’s business. Attempts by companies to fast track advertising or promotional material may result in expulsion from the portal and in serious cases a company will be billed. Companies and organisations are therefore encouraged to register an official person who will be in charge of answering complaints, questions and queries and respond to accusations from the consumers. Feedback, immediacy, interactivity and networking are some of the aspects utilised in this forum. There are several examples of consumer discussion which on its own create discourses on either products or producers and marketers.

For example, a customer ordered Guitar Hero III and two cordless guitars for Playstation 3 via an Internet shop, . He received a wrong order from the shop and found out that the only way to contact the customer service was through a web-based form, and there were no possibilities for telephone complaints. The procedures to address the anomaly were frustrating to him as it provided an endless list of things to do, of which mistakes incur extra charges. Sharing the frustrations with other readers, the discussants were able to share their positive and negative experiences with . This discussion goes under the www.komplett.no, one of the largest e-commerce website in Scandinavia. In another forum category for business and ICT (hardware.no) discussions are often of practical business nature such as which products to buy, how to install software, how to troubleshot computer problems, and other information and communications technologies. Discussion in the business forum (bedriftsforum) are arguably knowledge building and knowledge-sharing capabilities. They build a web of knowledge which can help the user to make informed decisions when buying ICT products and avoid problematic ICT solutions.

While forums like this provide spaces for participatory discussions, other Norwegian portals like the Consumer Council of Norway provide not only information and advice on consumer-related issues, it also provide practical information on how to handle complaints, seek redress, and make informed choices. Its forbrukerportalen.no provides a question and answer platform where consumers get answers for their questions on virtual every aspect. The portal does not however allow for direct comments, but invite comments via its editors. The Norwegian case demonstrates the centrality of information and communication technologies to consumers, allowing for a broader diffusion of consumer citizenship behaviour. It demonstrate that in the future consumer empowerment and power would be fought and centred in the Internet platform.

The case of South Africa

Internet usage in South Africa is relatively lower compared to Norway. According to the 2008 statistics from , South Africa is amongst Africa’s Top 10, with a penetration of 9.5% or approximately 4.590.000 Internet users out of a population of 48.7 million.42 These figures are indicative of the glaring digital divide in the world. Even though South Africa boosts some of the latest in information and communication technologies, there is still a huge gap between its citizens, socially, economically and educationally. Consumers are heavily stratified in terms of their knowledge, possibilities, choices, redress and rights. Digital divide presents the biggest challenge for consumer participation and empowerment as many people are excluded from computer-mediated consumer deliberations.

Nevertheless, for those in the middle and upper echelon of society, the Internet solutions provide similar services to those found in developed countries like Norway. Peer-to-peer exchanges and other consumer issues are mediated in the South Africa spaces. For the South Africa case, I chose the National Consumer Forum (.za ), ‘a non-profit and autonomous organisation that is dedicated to the protection of consumer rights and interests in South Africa. Unlike the Norwegian example where the focus was on discussion and exchange of experience, the NCF is mainly a one-way portal whose sole objective is to inform and educate. The overall power lies with the senders of information and not with the recipients and therefore offers few opportunities for peer-to-peer communication. An ideal symmetrical communication would be guided by a communication principle that entails establishing electronic forums for communication with consumers and organisations. The National Consumer Forum is mainly preoccupied with the provision of consumer information and consumer education. It recognises that “consumers have a right to complete information on the price, quality, quantity, ingredients and other conditions under which the goods and services they consume are produced.”43 The information attribute is central the empowerment attributes discussed above, given the adage that ‘information is power’. Access to information empowers the consumers and enables them to make informed and responsible decisions. Thus in addition to technology-enabled information access, the National Consumer Forum also employs a communication platform which uses a face-to face communication approach, through town meetings. The concept of town meetings being used in addition to the Internet is motivated by the desire to “empower consumers who live in disadvantaged areas” and further “to hear from the public about the challenges and problems as consumers of products and services from government and business.”44 Town meetings are functional in the sense that they cover the gaps left by the digital divide in South Africa.

Even though South Africa has a highly developed communication infrastructure, there are still many consumers with little or no access to communication facilities such as Internet. Therefore public meetings are in indispensable means for consumer empowerment, because through dialogue knowledge can be exchanged. One of the recurrent issues brought up by participants in these town meetings is the issue of access to information. “Lack of information was identified as the biggest challenge facing disadvantaged communities in the country” (ibid.). Consumers lacked information pertaining to consumer rights, and protection and felt exposed to unscrupulous businesses who sold products and services which put consumers at risk. Lack of information in South Africa seriously impedes consumer empowerment.

Another aspect of power is reflected through the education-orientation of the National Consumer Forum. Consumer education via the Internet and face-to-face communication are complimentary in that they reach out to the largest possible numbers, reaching both those with access to technologies and those without access. The standpoint for consumer-education is that citizens should grow into ‘becoming well-informed and critical consumers of products, commercial services and public services” and this “process of becoming entails not so much the provision of consumer information regarding products, services, the environment and other considerations but rather the continuous cultivation and development of living skills which would include cognitive skills such as critical and conceptual thinking, knowledge and understanding”45 The National Consumer Forum website can thus be considered as a consumer-education enabling device providing guidance for consumers, advice, alerts and relevant documents on consumer rights and redress. However, lacking in this website is horizontal communication through discussion forums.

This however does not mean that consumers are not offered deliberative opportunities in South African consumer information portals. Other Internet forums such as South African National Consumer Union, generates enough topics for discussion but consumer response are relatively lower.46 This is despite the fact that views are relatively high sometimes getting up to 40. The low levels of consumer response might be linked to the lower degree of engagement or connectivity.


With the advent of Internet and its increasing role in society, companies are increasingly resorting to the Internet to manage their consumers. Therefore in order to reach their empowerment goals, consumers and consumer organisation would also have to be proactive in their usage of Internet-based technologies. The fact that technologies are an enabling factor to consumer information and empowerment does not necessarily mean that information is easily made available to consumers. It is sometimes difficult to make or force service providers to make all relevant information available to consumers. However, the comparative competitiveness offered by the Internet communications compels business to provide more and more information, if they would have to remain relevant in the global market.

The inherent powers presented by the Internet as a communication technology are also a point of contestation with some forces struggling to control. These struggles are exemplified through the contested models of access. One notably area of concern is corporate sponsorship or ownership of consumer portals. The portals discussed above, .za and www.diskusjon.no, have corporate sponsorship. The Norwegian example is part of media conglomerate whilst NCF is sponsored by the Telkom, the South Africa telecommunications giant.47 What are implications of corporate ownership or influence on the legitimate channels of complaint? There is clear evidence of the overwhelming influence on corporate mass media on consumer forums in both South Africa and Norway. While the spaces of contention are offered in the Internet-based communication, corporate influences might in certain circumstances be tilted against consumer empowerment, dependent on the existing relations between consumers and business.


Although consumer empowerment is a difficult concept to pin down, the contributions of Internet to the growth of consumer empowerment as a process may be assessed from Internet user statistics. The higher percentage of Internet penetration correlates with its utilization in consumer-related processes. The use of ICT appears to be the driving the process of empowerment. This empowerment enables consumers to seek better value and services. The peer-to-peer web exchanges that the consumer forums embody undoubtedly have implications on consumer behaviour. Communicative interactions offered by the consumer forums also inform the users of their day-to-day activities as they deal with the increasingly challenging environment, marked by growing imbalances in social and economics systems. Discussion forums are knowledge systems central in the diffusion of broader consumer citizenship behavior.


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Ecological literacy level and meaning of sustainability among college students

Anupama Pasricha

Assistant Professor, Fashion and Apparel
Department of Family, Consumer and Nutritional Sciences
The College Of St. Catherine

(Soon to be St. Catherine University, as of June 1, 2009)
2004 Randolph Ave, Mail Box # 4131
St. Paul MN 55105
Phone: 1 800 945 4599, ext. 8871
or  651-690-8871

E-mail:  apasricha@stkate.edu 

Co-Author: Sara J. Kadolph

Professor, Department of

Apparel, Educational Studies, & Hospitality Management

31 MacKay

Iowa State University

Ames, IA 50011-1121 U.S.A.

Phone 515-294-3012

Fax 515-294-6364


Sustainability and going green are the “mantra,” a trend, and a cultural movement zeitgeist for today. It is a strategic initiative in 44% of the companies surveyed by Retail System Research (Wilson 2008). However, according to a January, 2007 survey (n=1600) by Hartman Group Inc., only 54% of individuals claim any familiarity with the term “sustainability” and most of them cannot define it. Current perceptions of sustainability are activist and political, fear-based with a focus on environmental elements whereas evolving perceptions are personal and hopeful with a focus on social elements (L. Demerrit, President and COO, Hartman Group, Inc., Power Point Presentation, E-mail communication, November 14, 2008; “The consumer side…” 2008). An attitudinal shift is driving sustainability, defining it as a “cultural phenomenon” (“The consumer side…” 2008).

David Orr, (1992: 86-87) known for his pioneering work in ecological literacy in higher education, coined the term “ecological literacy” providing a comprehensive understanding of ecological literacy as knowledge, values, and actions. Ecological literacy stems from the tenets of human ecology, the study of interrelations among people, their habitat, and the environment beyond their immediate surroundings forming an ecological unit (Lawrence 2005). The ecologically literate person has the knowledge necessary to comprehend interrelatedness among individuals, society and nature, an attitude of care or stewardship, and the practical competence to act on the basis of knowledge and feelings (Orr 1992; Lawrence 2005). Robertson’s study (2007) substantiated the interconnectedness of personal, curricular, programmatic, institutional, community, and policy system level bridges and barriers to nurture ecological literacy in environmental education in British Columbia.

Ecological literacy is a path to sustainability and sustainable development. Sustainable development is grounded on three pillars: social (people), environment (planet), and economic (profit), commonly known as Triple Bottom Line (TBL), a term coined by John Elkington (Anderson April 4, 2007; Lawrence 2005; “Principle of..,” n.d.). Education is the key to support and develop frequent new initiatives. Ecologically literate citizens will develop when education focuses on a sustainable and green world.

Sustainable and sustainability have been over used and misused (Orr 2005). Jabareen (2008) found a lack of comprehensive theoretical framework with vague definitions of sustainability and sustainable development.

The concept of sustainability is not widely understood, meaning different things to different individuals. Some examples include health, wellness, organics, environmental consciousness, fair trade, simple living, and buying locally.

Scully affirmed:

Several authors have tried to define sustainability including the most popular definition that was coined in 1987 by the United Nations' World Commission on Environment and Development: Sustainability means ";meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (2000: 2).

However, Oskamp (2002: 305-306) stated that this definition is lacking in completeness. She provided a different definition with four key domains: ecological, social, economic, and political/institutional/cultural. She suggests that her definition also needs further development.

Terms associated with going green are equally ambiguous. Organic, fair trade, energy efficient, environment, biodegradable, and recycle are terms used in association with ethical and green behavior. However, these terms have multiple meanings and interpretations, with no established definition of them (Connolly & Shaw 2006). Ozone depletion, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, climate change, and global warming are additional terms associated with environmental concern (Dunlop & Jones 2000).

The world is experiencing change in climate, ecology, economics, and society that may be beneficial. According to Merchant (1992) everyone knows that climatic and ecological changes are hitting a crisis situation. General ecological awareness predicts sustainable behavior or action. With higher awareness, an individual is more likely to be environmentally responsible (Kals & Maes 2002). There is an increased awareness of global problems and a realization that human lifestyles harm the environment (Abdul-Wahab 2008; Merchant 1992; Schulz & Zelezny 1998; Sia Su 2008).

Environmental responsibility is researched separately from social responsibility or the terms are used interchangeably. However, sustainability entails both behaviors. Sustainability needs an interdisciplinary and trans[-]disciplinary approach as well as multidisciplinary approaches (Lawrence 2005).


This paper focuses on awareness, knowledge, values and attitudes, and behavior components of ecological literacy and sustainability among college students. The literature has been reviewed from multiple sources: journal and magazine articles, newsletters, unpublished dissertation research, market research information, and web pages related to sustainability and ecological literacy. The literature is tied together through broad dimensions: values/beliefs/attitudes, millennial generation, green consumer, colleges and sustainability agenda, and the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP).


Values, beliefs and attitudes

Value system in society is contextual; values change over a period of time. A shift in society values appeared in the 1990s toward a focus on quality of life, less being more, re-use/durability, and a “we” philosophy (Ottman 1992). Stern et al. (1995) claim that values are shaped early in life and are less fluid while attitudes and behavior are shaped during socialization. Butler and Francis (1997) found that age and education have limited influence on environmental attitudes or behavior, indirectly substantiating Stern’s group’s claim. Many researchers believe that attitudes are formed by abstract values and attitudes that influence behavior (Dickson 2000).

A study conducted in the Philippines reported that gender and environment attitudes significantly affect students’ environmental concern (Stern et al. 1993; Sia Su 2008). Bodur and Sarigöllü (2005) investigated relationships between Turkish consumers’ attitudes and their enviromental behavior and identified three levels of environmental concern: 1) active concern, 2) passive concern, and 3) unconcerned.

Historically environmental concern has been used synonymously with environmental attitudes (Dunlap & Jones 2002:484). Constructs associated with attitudes include affect, beliefs, and behavior. Attitudes are an outcome of judgments based on prior knowledge, past judgments, and new external information (Albarracin et. al. 2005). A UK case study of household waste management found that the predictors of reduction, reuse, and recycling behavior differed significantly, with reduction and reuse being predicted by underlying environmental values, knowledge, and concern-based variables. Recycling behavior was, in contrast, characterized as highly normative behavior (Barr 2007). Thus, it is important to understand how values, attitudes, peer group, and experience influence ecological awareness, knowledge, values, attitudes, worldviews, and behavior. Studies by Kals and Maes substantiated that ecological awareness is a strong predictor of sustainable behavior in a wide range of action fields (Kals & Maes 2002).

Research based on a psychological modelwith cognitive, affective, and behavioral components will most likely produce valuable outcomes for affecting change. Past research used cognitive perspectives; current research uses emotional perspectives with its stronger impact on individual sustainability behavior. Finding specific conditions both inside and outside individuals will favor sustainable over non-sustainable behavior (Schmuck & Schulz 2002). Degenhardt (2002) found that emotional concern is an essential driving force for the implementation of sustainable life style decisions. Environmental reading and group joining, household recycling, and participation in nature-based outdoor recreation are behaviors studied by Johnson et al. (2004). They found Asian-American and US-born Latino environmental beliefs similar to those of whites whereas African-American beliefs differed from those of whites.

S study among the Omani public found that poor basic environmental knowledge was poor, positive attitudes toward policy change for improvement, and limited environmental behavior (Abdul-Wahab 2008). Azapazic et al. (2005) surveyed engineering students world-wide and suggested that knowledge and understanding of sustainable development is unsatisfactory, finding that knowledge about environmental issues involves much more than social and political sustainability issues.

The Millennials

A private(for profit) consumer research company, Tinderbox, The Hartman Group, Inc. (2008) researched the millennial generation using landscape review, ethnographical background, trend tracking, social network parties, and neuro-linguistic mapping. This research found that millenials were raised in the age of Earth Day, grew-up watching cartoons like Captain Planet make recycling cool. Millennials are tired and bored with consuming, have truly global tastes, and view the world as a social construction. For this generation, sustainability is being community-oriented and supporting socially conscious and small local businesses. They refer to sustainability as “going green” and are extremely aware of local and global environment. Many do not understand the meaning of the term organic but are very conscious of socially responsible companies (L. Demerrit, President and COO, Hartman Group, Inc., A Tinderbox Report Power Point, E-mail communication, November 14, 2008). Millennial live the postmodern culture. Morgado (1996) defines “Postmodern as a body of critical theory about the nature of contemporary society” (41). Contemporary society is a post-industrial society with a focus on social responsibility and professional commitment rather than exploitation and profit ethic (Morgado, 1996). Drucker (1993) refers to contemporary society as postmodern and post industrial, a transformation from the previous modern and industrial adaptation, According to Peter Drucker (1993),

“Every few hundred years in Western history, there occurs a sharp transformation… within a few short decades, society rearranges itself—its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions… Fifty years later, there is a new world and the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. We are currently living through just such a transformation” (p.1).

According to the UN, youth [ millennial generation] forms almost a third of the world’s population (“UN Division of sustainable…”, 2004.).. A UN study on youth and consumption surveyed youth from 24 countries; 75 percent of the respondents agreed that the biggest challenges are reducing environmental pollution, improving human health, and respecting human rights (McGregor 2002).

Green consumer

“Green” is not yet clearly defined (Ottman 1992). Sustainability means different things to different people (Lawrence 2005). It can include survivability, greening effort, health, wellness, organic, fair trade, simple living, or buying locally. The level of engagement with ecological thoughts and actions is defined by shades of green. Individuals with a dark green philosophy encompass culture, development, environmental and social justice, equity, health, and peace. “Green” only encompasses only “environmental” dimensions (Selby 2000). In a 2007 sustainability report by the Hartman Group, Inc. a major insight was the inconsistent understanding of what sustainability is and should be. The report divided consumers into three segments: periphery, mid-level, and core. Individuals who fully understand the concept and relate it to greater good are referred to as “core,” only 18% of the surveyed population (“The Hartman report...” 2007). The ultimate goal of creating ecological literate individuals would be to transform everyone into members of the “core”. In the UK, 80% of the population is aware of sustainability and demonstrate their understanding by buying local food, reducing packaging, and recycling rubbish (Editorial 2008; “Green consumerism: who..” 2007).

Haanpää (2007) stated that Green attitudes and consumption styles are life-style-based expressions of individual concern about the state of the environment. Degenhardt (2002) defines lifestyle pioneers as individuals whose knowledge, attitudes, and behavior considering sustainable development are consistent with ecologically and socially amicable lifestyles. A life-style pioneer is ecologically literate to the core sense and has a clear definition of what is sustainability and living green. Degenhardt (2002) concluded that emotional concern is an essential driving force for life-style pioneers. However, Haanpää (2007) reported evidence of a strong effect of socio-economic and demographic background variables on life-styles. A life-style pioneer is engaged in life-style choices and may act as a role model for others.

Colleges and sustainability agenda

The US Partnership on Decade of Sustainable Development created learning standards that integrate all aspects of sustainability throughout K-12 education. Orr (2004) stated that the education system prepares graduates without any broad and integrated idea of things. According to Bird (2008), individuals should know the target market perceptions and barriers as they relate to sustainability, and address barriers to bring positive life-style change. However, according to Bowers (1996), ecological literacy does not happen just in structured school education, it is a cultural phenomenon reflected in everyday life through assumptions, values, products, technology, and actions.

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), founded in 2006 an association of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. Its mission is to promote sustainability in all sectors of higher education through education, communication, research and professional development (AASHE n.d.). Several members of AASHE share a common sustainability agenda: increasing efforts to incorporate sustainability issues in the curriculum despite the confusion and debate about what sustainability means and its relevance within the context of the educational system (Calder & Clugston, 2003). Development of learning standards is a step toward preparing students to be ecologically literate before they enter colleges and universities. The declaration of the Decade of Sustainable Development and Agenda 21, a global action plan for delivering sustainable development, asserts the im