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Participation in Green Consumer Policies: Deliberative Democracy under the Wrong Conditions?

  • Mikael Klintman
Publishing year: 2009
Language: English
Pages: 43-57
Publication/Series: Journal of Consumer Policy
Volume: 32
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Luchterhand

Abstract english

In policy debates about reducing environmental and social harms, political

consumerism is often called for by actors from a broad political spectrum. This paper

examines traits of deliberative democracy in cases where instruments of political

consumerism (eco-labelling, certificates and standards) are developed. The empirical cases

are processes surrounding eco-labelled, standardised forestry, food and electricity in

Sweden. In green forestry certification, deliberative processes have taken place close to

deliberative democracy ideals. Yet, these processes have been made possible because of

equal power levels, although power, according to deliberative theory, should be irrelevant.

In organic food labelling, a smothering consensus climate has enabled deliberation,

although such a policy condition is at odds with certain deliberative democracy ideals. In

electricity labelling, its deliberative processes were embraced by everyone, although the

problem scope was narrowly defined, whilst fundamental problems were not addressed. If

deliberative democracy researchers become involved in critical frame reflection in

consumer-oriented policy making, changes can be made that help reduce environmental

harms and strengthen public engagement in political consumerism.


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
  • Green consumerism
  • Deliberative democracy
  • Political consumerism
  • Market-based deliberation
  • Eco-labelling


  • ISSN: 0168-7034
Mikael Klintman
E-mail: mikael [dot] klintman [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 70 284 55 48

+46 70 284 55 48


Sociologiska institutionen, Paradisgatan 5, Hus G, Lund


Sociologist with a broad, human scientific interest in social, economic and evolutionary dimensions of environmental and health related problems.

Department of Sociology
Lund University
Visiting address: Sandgatan 11, House G, Lund
Postal address: Box 114 , SE-221 00 LUND, SWEDEN
Telephone: Student Office +46 46-222 88 44, Lund University Switchboard +46 46-222 00 00

Faculty of Social Sciences