How come consumers don’t consume responsibly, provided they can and are offered the option? Postdoc Jonas Grauel has looked into the nexus between food consumption, morality and the presentation of the self.


The ’ethical consumer’ is on the rise. Consumers increasingly accept a personal responsibility pertaining to the consumption choices they do, or do not, undertake. However, the internalization of these ethical affordances, preferences and convictions are contingent on their ability to integrate these political dispositions with an ’authentic’ and ’professionalized’ self-presentation.

In other words, in order to successfully change engrained habits of eating, shopping or transport – consumers seem to purport this politically/ethically motivated change as a change of taste, coherent with their existing self-image. Thus when asked, people tend to present ’personal taste’ as the driver and legitimizing factor underlying, more (or less) ’ethical consumption.’ These ’acts of authentication’ might bring us closer to understanding i) how products should be marketed in order for consumers to accept them as both ethical and consistant with their taste and ii) acknowledge that ”taste” is more than a personal disposition, but a cultural domain, succeptable to political contestation.
If being perceived as authentic, that is to be true to ones own taste, is perceived to be of higher moral quality than being ’ethical’ – taste inevitably becomes a political objective.

For further understanding, read: Grauel, J. (2016) Being authentic or being responsible? Food consumption, morality and the presentation of self