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Individual motives and commercial retailing in green consumerism

Eden, Sally (1992) Individual motives and commercial retailing in green consumerism. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.


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This thesis studies the set of motivations and constraints involved in the purchasing of products perceived to be environmentally friendly, a phenomenon termed green consumerism, and in related forms of public environmentalism, including household-based recycling and membership of organised environmental groups. Both the public and members of organised environmental groups are of interest as potential green consumers, as well as retailers acting as providers of products and information relevant to green consumerism. The emphasis is upon the development of an integrated qualitative framework for studying environmental motivation and behaviour, and the understanding of the interplay of motivations and constraints at the individual level. Individual motivations are studied with respect to perceived responsibility for the environment and the rationalisation of this on the basis of the perceived cumulative impact of public environmentalism en masse. Constraints upon the translation of this responsibility into behaviour include economic priorities, cultural contexts and quality of life concerns and may be external (socially imposed) or internal to the individual. The latter case represents the refusal to sacrifice and the agency therefore present in the choice of proenvironmental behaviour. Retailers motivations are also studied with respect to perceived environmental responsibility, but the economic context of business gives economic constraints higher priority and more power to constrain environmental responsibility than moral judgements alone. Retailers, the media and environmental groups also function as information providers to seek public support. The uncertainty of much environmental information and the layperson’s perceived lack of evaluative ability work to constrain the usability of environmental information and to permit distrust of experts and elites perceived to be in control of information dissemination, within a wider trust of systems of information provision. The immediacy of information links clearly to action, whereas wider issues and impacts further into the future are more weakly connected to proenvironmental behaviour. Generally, the proenvironmental action taken on the basis of these motivations and constraints is perceived as individualistic rather than collective. All these themes indicate that green consumerism, like other public proenvironmental behaviours, depends upon information, responsibility and the belief in impact. However, contextual constraints of cultural norms, economic situations and internal priorities mediate in the adoption of such behaviours. Upcoming changes in law and markets may influence these factors, making the future of this very recent phenomenon as dynamic as its past.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.557323
Depositing User: Digitisation Studio Leeds
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2012 08:57
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2682

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