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Sustainable Consumption and Consumer Sovereignty

Christian Schubert and Andreas Chai

Papers on Economics and Evolution from Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography

Abstract: There is a growing consensus in Ecological Economics that consumer preferences are neither fixed nor given, but rather endogenously determined by socio-economic and institutional factors. Hence, policy may promote "green" preferences directly. Yet any intervention in processes of preference formation seems to conflict with widely held liberal intuitions, imperfectly represented by the principle of Consumer Sovereignty (CS). We argue that a suitably refined, dynamic version of CS may not stand in the way of certain preference-shaping policies. By exploring different modes of consumer learning that imply varying degrees of behavioral lock-in, we show that there is a scope for policies that influence preference formation without violating CS. This extends the range of normatively acceptable sustainability policies.

Keywords: Consumer Behavior; Consumer Welfare; Evolutionary Economics; Sustainability; Consumer Sovereignty (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D11 D63 Q58 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 38 pages
Date: 2012-10-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-env and nep-evo
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:esi:evopap:2012-14

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