Den politiske forbruger idag: Set fra et virksomhedsperspektiv

Julie Karla Ørnbjerg Christensen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

This thesis has from a social constructivist standpoint investigated the role that today’s political consumer plays in Danish companies’ work with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The problem area has been addressed by interviewing CSR managers from three of the biggest companies in Denmark: IKEA, Arla and FDB. The empirical results have been analysed by applying main concepts from institutional theory, sensemaking theory and discourse theory, and the analysis has contributed in creating a picture of today’s political consumer and it’s activity. The analysis shows that neither IKEA, Arla nor FDB encounter the political consumer in their day-to-day work. Here understood as a consumer, who boycotts or opts for different products or producers based on political values. The political consumer is therefore not seen as a driving force behind these companies’ CSR efforts. Instead, it is other institutional and internal organisational factors that drive CSR. Due to the negligible presence of the political consumer, the thesis suggests another way to understand this social phenomenon. From a discourse analytical perspective, the political consumer can be understood as an interpellated subject that acts as part of companies’ CSR-discourses. IKEA, Arla and FDB all draw on educational CSR-discourses that seek to teach consumers about socially responsible consumer behaviour. Through this learning, the companies contribute to increasing the number of consumers who bring with them social and political values in purchase situations, and indirectly they make consumers political. Thus, the political consumer is no longer seen as an autonomous and strong-willed individual, but as a disciplined subject that behaves politically, as a result of companies’ CSR-discourses. This means that the companies no longer act in a reactive fashion towards the political consumer, as much earlier examples have shown, but instead adopt a proactive posture, seeking to encourage more sustainable consumption. And instead, it is now the consumers, who act in a reactive manner in response to the companies’ CSR communication. The reason for this shift in roles can be found by looking at the intensity of companies’ CSR engagement, today. Companies are increasingly sharpening their CSR profile by integrating CSR into their business foundation, and it is therefore suggested that companies have incorporated many of the values formerly associated with the political consumer, ultimately altering the raison d’etre of the political consumer and establishing a need for a novel understanding of the subject – the politicized consumer.

EducationsMSc in Organisational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2013
Number of pages145