Essays on (Un-)Ethical Consumption and the Ethics of Consumption in a Global Marketplace

In times of climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, political unrest around the globe and ubiquitous corporate scandals, our consumerist and capitalist society is shaken. Mistrust in the political and economic system is widespread and the political debates in most of the democratic nations around the world have increasingly turned into an irreconcilable turmoil in which both ends of the political spectrums are incapable and unwilling to reach any form of consensus. This turmoil and chaos might threaten or at least hinder the development and implementation of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals that aim at ending the world’s poverty and inequalities, sustaining and conserving the world’s resources, and protecting our planet and its inhabitants. Against this background, the present dissertation tries to add more morality into the societal, political, and academic discussion to enrich the debate on how to overcome today’s global problems. These problems are not going to be solved unless approached by a multi-facetted, international and interdisciplinary array of solutions. Specifically, the dissertation suggests that morality within the marketplace (the so called “marketplace morality”) is essential to overcome today’s problems and to shift our economic system towards more morality and sustainability and to increase its value for all the market agents across the globe, including companies and consumers. The present dissertation aims to shed light on a variety of highly relevant issues that are ubiquitous in our modern consumerist society, yet are rarely addressed in research so far. The six essays within the dissertation focus on several aspects of marketplace morality and analyze different stakeholders (i.e., consumers and corporations) that engage in market interactions and try (or don’t try) to align their behaviors with some sort of ethical attitudes. In taking an interdisciplinary, multi-national standpoint that encompasses findings from consumer psychology, applied philosophy, consumer ethics, and cross-cultural marketing, the six essays reflect contemporary issues in research and derives diverse implications for academic research, practice, and policy. The dissertation applies various methods and methodological approaches to build a knowledge basis for future research on the interplay between (un-)ethical consumption behaviors and their normative backgrounds.


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