What does it mean when consumers "shop with a conscience" and choose products labeled as fair or sustainable? Does this translate into meaningful changes in global production processes? To what extent are voluntary standards implemented and enforced, and can they really govern global industries? Looking behind the Label presents an informative introduction to global production and ethical consumption, tracing the links between consumers' choices and the practices of multinational producers and retailers. Case studies of several types of products—wood and paper, food, apparel and footwear, and electronics—are used to reveal what lies behind voluntary rules and to critique predominant assumptions about ethical consumption as a form of political expression.
List of Commonly Used Acronyms
Introduction: Rules, Responsibilities, and Rights in the Global Economy
Part I: Making Sense of Conscientious Consumerism
1. The Making of Conscientious Consumers: Individual and National Patterns
2. Dilemmas of Conscientious Consumerism
Part II: Behind the Label: Global Production and the Meaning of Standards
3. Wood and Paper Products: Searching for Sustainability
4. Food: Global Agriculture and Local Development
5. Apparel and Footwear: Standards for Sweatshops
6. Electronics: The Hidden Costs of Computing
Conclusion: Beyond Conscientious Consumerism
Ultimately, the book moves readers away from individualistic stances on saving the world through buying 'socially responsible' products, to a much more critical sociological perspective by forcing us to look at how our political and economic structures can be the deepest source of international human rights violations and environmental degradation.
This book will prove useful for graduate students in environmental management, sociology, and business departments, as well as policy makers and researchers investigating topics of consumption, corporate social responsibility, social movements, and environmental justice. It balances depth and breadth quite successfully, and incorporates empirical evidence and current literature to support discussions on conscientious consumerism.
Journal of Cleaner Production
Looking Behind the Label is an important contribution to the literature on ethical consumption or political consumerism, and, more broadly, will be of interest to scholars and students of consumption, social movements, and global value chains.
As a collaborative project, Looking behind the Label benefits from the combined interdisciplinary
New Global Studies
expertise, making this a valuable contribution to the social sciences. . . . Reading this book can be an eye-opening experience for a variety of audiences from students of various levels to academics teaching and researching across the social sciences.
Looking Behind the Label is a testament to the value of collaborative work that draws together scholars whose expertise is closely related—in this case, expertise on regulatory and governance structures for a range of global commodities—but distinct enough to add both depth and breadth to the analysis. . . . This is a fine, if sobering, contribution to our knowledge about consumption, market
governance, and the realities of global production.