Citizen-Consumers in Sustainability Transitions: A Case Study of Seikatsu Club Consumer Cooperative

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
Maki HATANAKA, Sam Houston State University, USA
What roles can consumers play in fostering sustainability transitions? Much of current sustainability governance is characterized by instrumental and technical practices and thus, there is little room for ordinary citizens (e.g., producers and consumers) to meaningfully participate. As a result, the roles of consumers are often limited to the relatively passive role of “voting with their dollars” in the marketplace. This paper challenges the passive role of consumers in much of sustainability governance through a case study of the Seikatsu Club Consumer Cooperative (SCCC) in Japan. SCCC utilizes a citizen-based governance mechanism in which its members actively participate in building a sustainable agrifood system. A core belief of SCCC’s governance system is “reciprocal responsibility.” This is when producers and consumers both take responsibility for making changes in further sustainability. From a consumer perspective, this entails actively participating in all aspects of governance and making commitments to support farmers while they transition their practices. While the findings of this paper are limited to a single case study, they do indicate that robust forms of citizen consumerism are possible.