How does individual responsibility affect the economy?
Prof. Dr. phil., born 1961; Director of the Center for Responsibility Research (CRR) at the Institute for Cultural Studies in Essen and associate professor at the University of Witten-Herdecke, Goethestraße 31, 45128 Essen.
Email: [email protected]
Dipl.-Kulturwirtin, born in 1982; Research assistant at the Center for Responsibility Research (CRR) at the Institute for Cultural Studies Essen, Goethestraße 31, 45128 Essen.
Email: [email protected]
introductionThe role of consumption has changed in remarkable ways in recent years. More and more consumers are interested in the wages of coffee farmers, pollutants in children's toys or the CO2 emissions from their cars. The bargain mentality and ostentatious luxury are increasingly being replaced by a new attitude of responsibility that is directed towards the harmful consequences of consumption.
This development is not an isolated phenomenon, but is related to a general trend towards morally based markets. Even if the financial and economic crisis seems to point in the opposite direction: goods and services that have moral added value attract a great deal of economic attention. Morality and responsibility are important market factors today.
This fact raises a number of questions: What is behind the new responsibility of consumers, and what are the market-economy consequences? Is it just a short-term fashion and market phenomenon? Or are consumers on the way to a consumer democracy in which they can exert greater influence on company policy and the sustainable design of the future? 
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