The Formation of Consumer Activism: Context and Meanings of an Activist Order

Ahmed Benmecheddal , Nil Özçaglar-Toulouse  (2015). Published in Anastasia E. Thyroff , Jeff B. Murray , Russell W. Belk (ed.) Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Volume 17) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.111 – 128.

illustration-caddieThe goal in this research is to offer a new interpretation of activism by focusing not on the various ideologies but on the order of worth that coordinates activism.


Ethnographic approaches of participant observation and nondirective interviewing were the methods used in this study.


Drawing on the order models (Boltanski & Thévenot, 1991), the authors introduce the existence of an “activist order.” This order is composed of rules that coordinate activists’ practices. Activists draw on this “activist order” to justify their practices but also to criticize other orders such as the market order.


This “activist order” serves as the structure underpinning both activists’ institutional frameworks (such as CSA and LETS) and their actions (e.g., antiadvertising campaigns). This paper also has implications for our understanding of the relationship between the Marketplace and consumer movements. The authors demonstrate that people navigate between different order of worth, from the market order to the “activist order” and vice versa.