Irresponsible Shopping: Reasons for the absence of socially responsible shopping

Minttu Oramaa

Student thesis: Master thesis


As the world has become increasingly global and the amount of transnational businesses has grown, the threat of negative externalities has increased alongside. Companies are no longer bound by state-borders or by complex process of moving operations elsewhere and, thus, society’s ability to control their actions has diminished. These trends have especially been part of clothing industry as there the threat of negative externalities is particularly strong due to industry specific factors. Consumers, as companies’ primary stakeholders, can act as drivers of socially responsible conduct. For the most part, this ability is currently gone unused as consumers do not take into consideration the impact that their purchases have on society and the environment. This thesis investigated the reasons why consumers do not take products societal impact into consideration while shopping. Thus the research question was “Why do consumers not practice socially responsible clothing shopping?” This was answered through looking into the factors that were hindering socially responsible shopping from social practice perspective, and also how the consumers collectively rationalize the lack of action. The research was conducted through semi-structured qualitative interviews in Copenhagen. Firstly, according to the theoretical data, was created a typology of possible schemes in which different factors were preventing the action. This scheme typology was tested according to the individually analysed interview data which confirmed the model for three of the schemes. From the basis of this was developed a revised model of that can be used as conceptual framework in future research of socially responsible shopping practice. Secondly, the findings were analysed thematically, where were identified underlying themes that further explained the non-existence of socially responsible practice. From this section occurred that consumers, actually, actively avoid socially responsible shopping, and even thinking about it, as it is perceived to complicate their own life disproportionally. Due to these results, taking a social practice approach to promoting socially responsible clothing shopping was proposed. This could help tackling the factors that consumers perceive as hindering their capability to perform socially responsible shopping practice. In addition, this approach would enable simplification the issues by introducing readily adoptable practices to society and thus make it easy for consumers to perform socially responsible actions.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages82