Ethical consumption in Chile and Brazil
das Gracas Brightwell, M.
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Ariztia presented the first findings of an ongoing multi-national research project ‘Sustainable Choices’. Chile and Brazil are former developing countries which now have growing ethical consumption movements. Ethical consumption, i.e., a form of consumption in which consumers use their buying power to effect social and proenvironmental change, is a growing trend in income-rich countries. This leverage can be even more powerfully used through public procurement, where the state buys goods and services in the name of taxpayers. Ariztia, Kleine, Brightwell, Agloni and Afonso analyzed the trends in ethical consumption and the criteria used in public procurement systems in Chile and Brazil. Against this backdrop, Ariztia discussed the outcomes of the first stage of the project: an extensive literature review of the developing trend towards “ethical”, “sustainable” and “conscious” consumption in Chile and Brazil. More specifically he focused on presenting the different institutional context which has supported the nascent movement of ethical consumption in these two countries. He argued that in order to better understand ethical consumption, one must analyze the context-specific discourses and institutions in which it is embedded. Chile works as a case in which ethical consumption discourses and practices are confronted by a neoliberal institutional setting. Brazil, on the other hand, provides also a very interesting case for studying how ethical consumption is localized within Latin America: it has the size to create its own rules, and is currently run by consecutive center-left government. Brazil has institutional space for “light-red” experimentation within the capitalist framework. While in both countries there is a drive toward a green agenda in which ethical consumption is being increasingly valued, Ariztia argues that both countries shows different paths of the ethical consumption trend in terms of their institutional and historical background. In one case ethical consumption has arisen from market driven forces such as companies, consultancies and citizen organizations. In the case of Brazil, its developments seems to be much more connected with efforts emanating from the state to actively encourage and incorporate alternative consumption and economic movements such as “Economia Solidaria”. Ariztia argues that these two cases involve different interpretations of the state-market relationship and the role that ethical consumption might play within it.