• Charlotte Kjeldmark
For an increasing number of consumers living in affluent societies, the social features of products, e.g. decent living and working conditions for producers in developing countries, are important ethical criteria in their shopping strategies. As an example, over the last decades, Fairtrade consumption has been expanding rapidly across Europe and in North America. For instance, in 2010, shoppers spent €4.36 billion on Fairtrade products which is a 27 percent increase compared to 2009. Therefore, it can be suggested that ethical consumption has become somewhat a global trend amongst consumers in Western consumer societies: societies in which the buying and selling of goods and services seem to be the most important social and economic activity. The question though remains how this global trend is manifested locally and not solely globally. By gaining insight from Swedish students, the object is to explore and analyze how a global trend such as ethical consumption is manifested in Sweden, and I wish to examine the behavior of Swedish students in an attempt to explore how global understandings of ethical consumptions influence these consumers.

As I wish to gain a deeper understanding of the topic, this thesis adopts a constructivist approach. In continuation of this, the selected research strategy is a qualitative approach. In order to get as rich and detailed data as possible, the primary data forming the basis of the analysis encompass semi-structured, in-depth interviews with six Swedish students. A literature review presenting global understandings on ethical consumption is also included, and it is applied as a point of comparison when analyzing the interviewees and their perceptions and worldviews.

The analysis revealed that the interviewees in several ways have taken elements from global understandings of ethical consumption and blended it with their own consumption practices in terms of their general behavior and consumption patterns. Therefore, according to the findings presented in the analysis, the Swedish model on ethical consumption is that Swedish students view ethical consumption to be more than consumption; rather, it is a lifestyle. Based on my findings, Swedish students are very aware when it comes to ethical issues, and the findings indicate that it is when they choose to act on this awareness that ethicality becomes an integrated part of their identity –both internally and externally.
Publication date31 May 2016
ID: 234500922