Exploring the Meaning of Ethical Consumption: A Chinese Perspective

Huo, Yan (2016) Exploring the Meaning of Ethical Consumption: A Chinese Perspective. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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The existing literature on ethical consumption is primarily developed from a Western perspective; those from other parts of the world remain under-represented. This study offers an authentic Chinese perspective of ethical consumption: revealing Chinese consumers’ responses to the Western notion of ethical consumption and describing their interpretations of ethical consumption in a Chinese context. A phenomenological approach was adopted to explore this Chinese perceptive through consumers’ lived life stories and experiences. Four focus groups and fourteen interviews were conducted to ‘make text’, thematic analysis, guided by a hermeneutic approach to interpretation, was then used to produce rich meanings. This study’s findings highlight the significance of traditional Chinese cultural virtues, and in particular, those attached to reconstructionist Confucianism. The outcomes illustrate that these traditional Chinese virtues are still deeply embedded in Chinese consumers, speaking through them and influencing their construction of the meanings of ethical consumption. Virtues such as harmony, thrift, being humble, trustworthiness, humanness and righteousness, loving one’s family and extending this love to others, are particularly relevant. This Chinese perspective of ethical consumption, therefore, can be viewed as ‘a bundle of virtues’. This bundle does not operate in a fixed order, but rather the elements interact with the external environment and thus the virtues used are influenced by specific situations to provide the basis for ‘ethical consumption’ in context. The study findings also indicate the usefulness of virtue ethics in the field of ethical consumption. This leads to the suggestion that future research adopt a virtue ethics lens, rather than falling back on either a principles-based (deontological) or outcomes-based (consequential) perspective. Thus, even though this study considers a Chinese perspective, it offers a response to the Western notion of ethical consumption that underscores the importance of context, environment and situation. This leads to a position where research need to address, appreciate and incorporate the collaboration of governments, organizations and individual consumers in achieving a ‘true’ sense of ethical consumption.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Wang, Lilyxwang@glos.ac.ukhttps://www.glos.ac.uk/staff/profile/lily-wang/
Ward, Philippapward@glos.ac.ukhttps://www.glos.ac.uk/staff/profile/philippa-ward/
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ethical consumerism; Food safety; China
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > HD60 Social responsibility in business
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5428 Retail Trade
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2017 12:48
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 08:14
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/4406

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