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Making space for ethical consumption in the South.

Gregson, N. and Ferdous, R. (2015) 'Making space for ethical consumption in the South.', Geoforum., 67 . pp. 244-255.


This paper argues that, given the rapid growth in the middle classes across the Global South, debates about ethical consumption need to be reconfigured to admit these middle classes, not as a problem but as a possibility. It establishes the potential to constitute Southern consumption as a surface of mobilisation for ethical consumption and, through working from the specificities of the South in Bangladesh, demonstrates how within-South framings unsettle and challenge existing North–South understandings of ethical consumption. The paper makes three specific contributions. (1) It shows how North–South conceptual understandings of ethical consumption as political consumption might be reworked to admit the South. (2) Through an examination of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh it demonstrates the absence of a politics of consumer responsibility amongst the Bangladeshi middle classes, and suggests how a politics of responsibility might be forged, through paying attention to Southern brands and supply chains. (3) Through an examination of the Aarong retail brand of the corporate NGO BRAC, the paper shows that ethical consumption exists in Bangladesh, not as ethical consumption but as ordinary consumption with ethical effects. The paper concludes by considering the wider implications of these findings for furthering academic and practitioner debate.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Ethical consumption, Global South, Middle classes, Responsibility, Mainstreaming, Bangladesh.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.
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Publisher statement:© 2015 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:09 February 2015
Date deposited:24 February 2015
Date of first online publication:26 February 2015
Date first made open access:26 February 2017

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