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Choice Architectures in the Digital Economy: Towards a New Understanding of Digital Vulnerability

N. Helberger (), M. Sax, J. Strycharz and H.-W. Micklitz
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N. Helberger: University of Amsterdam
M. Sax: University of Amsterdam
J. Strycharz: University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam School of Communication Research
H.-W. Micklitz: European University Institute

Journal of Consumer Policy, 2022, vol. 45, issue 2, No 2, 175-200

Abstract: Abstract In the digital economy, consumer vulnerability is not simply a vantage point from which to assess some consumers’ lack of ability to activate their awareness of persuasion. Instead, digital vulnerability describes a universal state of defencelessness and susceptibility to (the exploitation of) power imbalances that are the result of the increasing automation of commerce, datafied consumer–seller relations, and the very architecture of digital marketplaces. Digital vulnerability, we argue, is architectural, relational, and data-driven. Based on our concept of digital vulnerability, we demonstrate how and why using digital technology to render consumers vulnerable is the epitome of an unfair digital commercial practice.

Keywords: Digital marketplaces; Unfair commercial practices; Data-driven marketing strategies; Dark patterns; Platforms; Manipulation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s10603-021-09500-5

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Journal of Consumer Policy is currently edited by Hans Micklitz, John Thøgersen, Lucia A. Reisch, Alan Mathios and Christian Twigg-Flesner

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