This chapter explores whether the use of ‘consumer’ pressure in improving the environmental performance of companies, a tactic long advocated by environmentalists, stands critical scrutiny. It examines some previously ignored connections between processes of organisational purchasing and innovation in the context of the greening of organisations. It builds an argument around the idea of consumption and it does so to problematise explicitly the issue of collective agency as it relates to organisations. In developing the argument, the chapter asks: who is the consumer and what do consumers do? It uses the interplay between concepts of the individual consumer and concepts of the organisational consumer as a way to explicate some key ideas about the greening of consumption. Using the concept of the ‘supply chain’, it suggests that more attention needs to be paid to the mechanisms, both between and within firms and organisations, through which they engage in buying and selling. Such mechanisms are the organisation sites for the articulation of ‘demand’ and ‘consumption’.
This book brings together a range of sociologists and economists to study the role of demand and consumption in the innovative process. Starting with a broad conceptual overview of ways that the sociological and economics literatures address issues of innovation, demand and consumption, it goes on to offer different approaches to the economics of demand and innovation through an evolutionary framework, before reviewing how consumption fits into evolutionary models of economic development. The book then looks at food consumption as an example of innovation by demand, including an examination of the dynamic nature of socially constituted consumption routines. It includes an analysis of how African Americans use consumption to express collective identity and discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation, focusing on how consumer needs may be incorporated in the design of high-tech products. It also argues for the need to build an economic sociology of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features.
Andrew McMeekin, Ken Green, Mark Tomlinson, and Vivien Walsh
This book offers broad conceptual overviews of ways that the sociological and economics literatures address issues of innovation, demand, and consumption. It looks at the sociological literature on consumption, focusing on research that offers alternative or complementary views to the concepts of ‘conspicuous consumption’ and individual choice. It also argues that there is more to the economics of consumption than the mainstream economists' paradigm of utility maximisation, reviews how consumption fits into ‘evolutionary’ models of economic development, examines the routine nature of food consumption, analyses how African Americans use consumption to express collective identity, discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation, considers users and how their needs may be incorporated (successfully or otherwise) in the design of high-tech products, and stresses the need to build an economic sociology/political economy of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features.