The Ethical Shopper

Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 11:51 am

First-year students in The Ethical Shopper—a tutorial taught by Cori Jakubiak, education—are spending a semester exploring the possibilities and limits of consumer-based citizenship. 

Jakubiak says, “we are continually encouraged to practice our politics in the shops: to resist environmental degradation by buying ‘green’ labeled products; to promote fair wages by choosing fair trade coffee; to ‘make a difference’ by eschewing Disneyland for a volunteer vacation.”

Students in her class are exploring questions such as: 

  • How did consumption become a dominant form of civic engagement? 
  • Who is discounted when political activism is tied to purchasing? 
  • What does it mean when AIDS and breast cancer spawn “RED” Gap clothing lines and pink-hued kitchen appliances?