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Reconciling demands of conscience: a grounded theory of consumer behaviour in the Fairtrade context

Gillani, Alvina 2014. Reconciling demands of conscience: a grounded theory of consumer behaviour in the Fairtrade context. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Fairtrade is a trading partnership which contributes to sustainable development by offering better conditions while safeguarding the rights of marginalised producers in the global South. This study presents a grounded theory of consumer purchase decision making in the context of Fairtrade. This thesis has identified the consumers' main concern to be the Demands of Conscience when faced with the choice of buying Fairtrade products, and presents the emergent grounded theory of Reconciling Demands of Conscience which explains conceptually the means by which consumers process this concern. The emergent process of ' Reconciling Demands of Conscience' is conceptualised as consisting of the four distinct stages of Comfort Zoning, Evaluating, Acting and Reflecting, with an experiential feedback loop from the purchase outcomes which could affect subsequent purchase decisions. This study also conceptualises consumer behaviour as mutable as a result of external or internal influences. Furthermore, five emergent behavioural types of Supporting and Committed, Supporting but Vacillating, Questioning but Supporting, Sceptical, and Cynical are presented on a behavioural continuum and the concept of Behavioural Mutability as emerged from the data, which explicates the potential for behavioural change within these five behavioural groups is proposed. The theory has been developed employing the complete gamut of classic grounded theory procedures and is based on seventy one-to-one, in-depth interviews, and observations with an eclectic mix of consumers. These interviews were further augmented by having respondents provide till receipts so as to identify any difference between stated and actual behaviour. The theory contributes to the extant fair trade consumer behaviour literature by explaining the significance of behavioural nuances involved in the consumer's purchase decision making, highlighting some important considerations for fair trade academics and practitioners. Furthermore, the theory of Reconciling Demands of Conscience, because of its conceptual nature also demonstrates relevance outwith its substantive area. Most notably, offering contributions to current research on attitude-behaviour discrepancy in ethical consumer behaviour, guilt coping mechanisms, and to ethical decision making literature by offering a conceptual explanation of consumer purchase behaviour when faced with an ethical option.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:39

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