From consumer to producer: motivations, internet use, and political consumerism

Melissa R. Gotlieb, Sadia E. Cheema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Our understanding of how political consumerism relates to broader civic engagement has been clouded by the myriad ways in which it has been conceptualized in the literature. In this study, we draw a distinction between the use of socially conscious consumption practices in everyday life and participation in organized boycotts and ‘buycotts.’ We argue that whether political consumerism is enacted as lifestyle politics or as contentious politics may depend, at least in part, on the motivations that underlie political consumerism and the way in which they orient behavior in the online environment. Results of a national survey of U.S. adults show that while both value-expressive and social-identification motivation facilitate comparable levels of content consumption, only the latter facilitates the more involved act of posting and sharing original content. Moreover, results show that while both uses of internet, in turn, facilitate lifestyle and contentious political consumerism, content production facilitates significantly greater levels of both. This was especially pronounced for contentious political consumerism. These findings suggest that content production may be an important vehicle for channeling motivations for political consumerism rooted in social-identification needs toward participation in more organized and collective modes of consumer action. Implications for understanding the potential political consumerism holds as a gateway to participation in conventional political activities are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-586
Number of pages17
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 3 2017


  • Motivations
  • internet use
  • political consumerism
  • user-generated content


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