To Buy or Not to Buy: Who are Political Consumers? What do they Think and How Do they Participate?

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Abstract

Political consumerism has recently generated academic interest among political participation researchers. While some scholars underscore political consumerism as an emerging civic and political engagement, others discredit its democratic potentials. Drawing on two national survey samples in 2002 that measured both boycotting and ‘buycotting’, this study examines political consumers' demographic backgrounds, socio-political attitudes, issue orientations and their status of civic and political participation. Findings suggest that: (1) boycotters and buycotters should be distinguished because their demographic backgrounds are substantially different; (2) political consumers possess post-material values and are mainly interested in lifestyle-oriented social issues; and (3) political consumers are more active political participants. Theoretical implications of the findings and an agenda for future studies are also discussed.

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