“Do Something Simple for the Climate”: How Collective Counter-Conduct Reproduces Consumer Responsibilization

Friederike Döbbe, Emilia Cederberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)


This paper studies consumers’ reactions and resistance to being responsibilized for making climate-friendly food choices. While resistance to consumer responsibilization has been studied from an individual experiential perspective, we examine its collective characteristics. We do this by tracing the controversial marketing campaign of a Swedish poultry producer, encouraging consumers to “do something simple for the climate” by eating chicken rather than beef. In our analysis of social media comments and formal complaints to the consumer protection authority, we mobilize Foucault’s notion of counter-conduct to analyse subtle forms of resistance to consumer responsibilization. We identified four interrelated yet distinct forms of consumer counter-conduct: challenging truth claims, demanding ‘more,’ constructing ‘the misled consumer,’ and rejecting vilification. By theorizing these counter-conducts, we demonstrate how consumers collectively contested both the means and ends of responsibilization—but not the underlying premise of individualized responsibility. Thus, our study helps to explain how consumers’ resistance reproduces, rather than undermines, responsibilization.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Early online date30 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2023

Data Availability Statement

For the preservation of anonymity, the empirical data are not available to be shared.


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