The role of green consumption practices in defining self-identities: A qualitative research in Denmark and Italy

Stefania Valentini

Student thesis: Master thesis


People’s concerns for environmental issues are growing rapidly over the past few years. Ethical discussions in general, from climate changes to workers conditions, going through fair trade or organic consumption, are extremely common nowadays among institutions, academics and individuals, and more and more consumers are becoming aware of the need to shift toward more sustainable ways of consuming. Given that, this research focuses on consumers’ behavior, aiming to investigate green consumers’ assumptions, beliefs and habits. More precisely, its starting point is to study the role that green consumption practices play in the process of construction of people selfidentities, with a double focus on Denmark and Italy. The existing literature has highlighted that people behave in ways that are consistent with who they are and who they want to be, therefore they utilize products and objects in their possession to enhance and define their selves. As Belk (1995) stated, people are what they buy and possess, hence this research focuses on how green consumption practices contribute to the definition of environmentally conscious consumers' self-identities both in Denmark and Italy. Moreover, on what these practices communicate about individuals’ identities, and conversely, on how people are expressing and reinforcing their values and beliefs, both intentionally or unintentionally, through their ethical purchase choices and habits. Given these research objectives, I have collected in-depth interviews following McCracken Long Interview’s method (1988), among Danish and Italian individuals, who already considered themselves green consumers. Hence, the research is structured along three chapters. The first chapter deals with an attempt to define the broad concept of sustainability and its meanings, and to delimitate the theory on which this study has been based. Afterwards, it presents the research questions, and the methodology used to collect the data. The second chapter is centered around the codification and the analysis of the interviews’ transcripts, presenting all the themes emerged. Finally, the third chapter refers to the possible implications that might derive from the analysis, and therefore the future perspectives of this research.

EducationsCand.merc.smc Strategic Market Creation, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages84