2015 Karpatkin Lecture ACCI Clearwater Beach FL (May 20-22) Reframing Perspectives for Consumer Work Sue L. T. McGregor PhD Professor Emerita MSVU [email protected] www.consultmcgregor.com Marketplace is profoundly complex
Need to shift perspectives and reframe approaches to our consumer Collection of new perspectives Consumer justice Transformative consumer research
Consumer acumen Moral leadership Non-violent consumerism Integral thinking Transdisciplinarity Complexity theory CONSUMER JUSTICE Consumer justice
A new concept being used by Consumers International and the Union des consommateurs (Quebec), since 2011. Consumer protection and access to justice have been historically linked but the term consumer justice seems different somehow, a subtle reframing of our work. New jargon- Tackling injustice in the consumer marketplace so as to strengthen consumer rights What does the noun justice mean when linked with the adjective consumer? Consumer justice cont
Is consumer justice different from consumer rights? Rights are something we are entitled to, something we deserve. Justice pertains to morally right and fair actions. Justice is Latin ius for right. Would our work look different if we strove for consumer justice, not just access to justice? Is consumer injustice a more powerful perspective than infringement or abuse of consumer rights? If people experience an injustice, they experience a violation of a right against their reasonable will a wrong against them, another species, the earth, or a wrong against society or humanity. If someone experiences injustice, they endure an outcome that they did not
deserve. To infringe means to encroach on something, to go beyond the usual limit (people can feel violated, threatened, dismissed, disrespected). Abuse of means maltreatment, misuse, exploitation, manipulation. Consumer justice fini Does an injustice have to occur before a consumer right can be infringed upon or abused? Justice scholars also maintain that a sense
of injustice leads to action while the notion of justice inspires contemplation Would our consumer work change if we shifted to a concern for the sense of consumer injustice instead of consumer justice or consumer rights? Transformative Consumer Research Source of image: http://www.acrwebsite.org/assets/images/t
cr/tcr-graphics.GIF TRC is promoted by the Association for Consumer Research (ACR), since 2006 It is a movement within ACR that seeks to encourage, support, and publicize research that benefits consumer welfare and quality of life for all beings affected by consumption across the world. It is a push back to the fallout of neoliberalism, capitalism, top-down globalization, conservatism, fundamentalism, consumerism, and materialism. TCR is focused on improving the well-being of
consumers while maximizing social justice and the fair allocation of opportunities and resources. TCR assumes that the life world of the consumer must be kept in clear focus so that research can maximize its meaningfulness, relevance, and usefulness. Nuances of TCR: deeply values the plurality of theories, world views, methodologies, methods, levels of analysis, and paradigm (it privileges none) seeks to work on those problems that are perceived by consumers to be most pressing, to better ensure that our research is meaningful and relevant
is inherently focused on context intentionally shares research findings with consumers, policy makers and others; TCR researchers see themselves in the role of public servant especially strives to make sure research results are pertinent and intelligible to consumers is especially focused on a new concept called practical consumer wisdom TCRs practical consumer wisdom Resisting the pursuit of empirical knowledge in the absence of deliberation and dialogue about societys
needs and pressures, TCR seeks practical wisdom, which stems from Aristotles notion of phronesis Greek word for a type of wisdom or intelligence, specifically the virtue of practical thought (think before you act) Practical wisdom is defined as developing plans and solutions that are well reasoned and capable of action in regard to matters that are good or bad for humanity (human and earthly welfare) Being a wise consumer is more than cost-benefit analysis or knowing ones preferences. It is about perceptive, context-specific judgements with a mission to maintaining and enhancing well-being
TCR holds dialogical conferences Deeply listen to and engage with others on shared concerns that impact consumer wellbeing and quality of life Create strong social networks of consumer researchers who share practical wisdom and seek to translate
research into action for social change CONSUMER ACUMEN Acumen (mental sharpness, shrewdness) is aligned with TCRs practical wisdom Assumes that in times of complexity, consumer literacy is insufficient consumers need acumen; that is, keen insight, good judgements and ability to make quick decisions in very complex situations. With acumen, people are able to penetrate deeply
into ideas, enabling them to discern the dynamics of changing contexts. Acumen means sharp minds and intellectual wit (i.e., the capacity for inventive thought and for quick understandings) Penetrating intelligence better enables consumers to ensure their well-being and quality of life, while being aware of social justice, ecological integrity, and the moral and ethical dimensions of their behaviour. New Assumptions: With sensitization and education, consumers can
become capable of recognizing the complexity of the marketplace and of their life world. Consumers are able to penetrate this maze of connections, discerning the power, privilege and dynamics at play. The latter have the ability to compromise their consumer interest, putting them at a disadvantage. Their and our actions would be directed at the complex nuances of the system as it plays out in peoples daily lives, keenly seeking opportunities to enhance the consumers interest in the context of deep and emergent complexity.
Moral Leadership Consumers have always been conceptualized as managers this could be reframed Leaders Managers provide direction for transformation based on principles adapt to situations, striving to share power
while strengthening people. work on changing the system and the infrastructures by looking at the lens and saying it is right for us. provide control of resources used in transactions based on methods and procedures react to situations, striving to maintain power while
minimizing costs and maximizing benefits. work within the system and structures by looking through the lens, directing the producers to do the work. Moral leadership In addition to the management imperative of sustainability, ethics, and environmental integrity, the field needs a moral leadership imperative.
Consumers can be viewed as moral leaders in the marketplace as well as efficient, ethical managers. When people 'think ethically,' they are giving at least some thought to something beyond themselves (ethics refers to the goodness and badness of people and what it means to live the good life). Morality focuses on the right and wrong of peoples actions (guided by a personal compass derived from ones conscience). Dimensions of consumer moral
leadership I suggest that this concept comprises 12 different dimensions, including but not limited to moral authority and discipline moral self-transcendence moral courage moral authenticity, and moral intensity. Consumer morality can be concerned with
three things, each determining our approach to research: Character of the consumer (virtues) note that TCRs phronesis (practical wisdom) is part of this Intentions and motives of the consumer Consequences to others of the consumers actions Consumer moral leadership involves self-transcendent individuals acting from a stance of moral integrity and courage as they engage with morally intense consumer decisions (people could be harmed). This new concept helps us reframe consumers as moral leaders in the complex global marketplace in concert with
ethical managers in their local and micro contexts. Non-violent Consumerism What would our consumer work look like if we applied the principles of non-violence? Gandhian nonviolence is understood to be a positive force generated by self-sacrifice in
the cause of the Truth Need non-violence in order to cope with the structural violence inherent in the global marketplace; that is, when people consume, they often harm themselves, others, other species, and the earth, but this harm is virtually
unintentional. It happens because of the way the Positive Force (Satyagraha) the positive force refers to an inner force not a physical force. As people face and overcome inner struggles and obstacles in life, they gain an inner power and strength that they can store up and draw upon when they encounter conflict. As people learn to control their knee-jerk, negative emotions and
internalize new insights about themselves and others, they learn to store the energy involved in this process. This inner power is called Satyagraha (satya means truth). Source of image Source http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_uISeCrSwfp0/TJNhC1xToZI/AAAAAAAAAFI/23 dj4Fsxmrk/s1600/junglewomanhologram3.jpg
Self-sacrifice means a willingness to always engage in inner struggles to learn more about oneself and to harness the positive force this self-reflection generates for future constructive use. A reserve of positive energy, self truth, the Satyagraha, builds up. Self-sacrifice takes great courage and many years to learn; it is a life journey. Also, sacrifice of self is infinitely
superior to sacrifice of others; the intent of sacrificing oneself is to convert the hearts of violent opponents. The Truth Because everyone sees the world differently, they observe a different truth, meaning Gandhian truth is incomplete. People listen to and observe everyone, even those they do not like, because that person or
situation may have the missing piece of Truth. Satyagraha (truth) builds up as people observe the world around them while looking for the Truth. Offering the Satyagraha When people who embrace this philosophy encounter a conflict, they draw upon their inner stockpile of positive strength, and take
non-violent action (called offering the Satyagraha). While never compromising the principles of nonviolence, people practicing non-violence do remain open to changing strategies. Examples include strikes, boycotts, picketing, marches, sit-ins, and work-to-rule. Examples of non-violent consumerism
When observing others consuming in the violent infrastructure, people could raise the issue of the impact of their violent consuming actions, but never judge the ethics or morals of the person. Northern consumers could try to see Majority World labourers as their friends who need to be liberated from oppression; rather than calling them others, try calling them fellow citizens. More examples of non-violent consumerism Try not to say the transnational corporation; instead,
say the people in the transnational corporation, thereby humanizing the situation. Northern consumers could strive to work with the people in trans-national corporations (rather than calling them the enemy) so all can grow inside and move ahead together - everyone has a piece of the Truth and all are needed in order to find the Truth. People could take issue with the neo-liberal agenda and not with the CEOs who live by its principlesstrive to reveal the truths behind the ideology, the agenda. Try to see the CEO as a person in need of liberation from oppression of the ideology. Integral Thinking
Quadrant 1 Upper left I Inner self, consciousness, morality and ethics Mind Quadrant 3 Lower left WE Culture, societies,
values and world view (inside the collective) Meaning Quadrant 2 Upper right IT External physical body and brain; biological organism; behaviour; empirical knowing Matter
Quadrant 4 Lower right ITS External world's complex systems, institutions and environments (outside the collective) Web of Life Integral thinking Consumer scholars need all quadrants to solve the complex,
emergent problems manifesting in the marketplace; otherwise, we miss too much. Bringing all four quadrants to consumer research better ensures a truer representation of existing global marketplace complexities. This approach allows us to totally reframe our consumer work; no longer just focused on scientific, materialistic, empirical research (upper right quadrant). It enables us to include the
subjective and objective, interior and exterior, individual and collective, physical matter and external systems Source of image http://www.barrypatterson.com/wp-content/uploa ds/2011/12/AQALSust.jpg Transdisciplinarity Source of image http://www.hent.org/transdisc iplinary.htm
More complexity. The problems of the world are too complex to be solved using just knowledge from university disciplines. We need to connect that knowledge with other ways of seeing the world, outside the academy. Transdiscipline means across, to cross over, through, on the other side of, to go beyond. I propose that consumer researchers can draw upon Basarab Nicolescus
transdisciplinary methodology, with its three axioms (ontology, logic and epistemology). Epistemology Ontology Logic Lava Lamp Metaphor
Complexity Thinking Consumer researchers could embrace complexity thinking, which assumes: a system can comprise living parts (agents) that are intelligent and capable of adapting to their environment through interactions, communication, and coordinated activities. The system within which these agents
interact is called an intelligent complex, adaptive system (CAS). Agents in the system interact and Examples of complex adaptive systems include: the ecosystem the brain the human immune system the stock market political parties ant colonies communities
economic systems Complexity thinking assumes: The overall behaviour of the complex adaptive system is the result of a huge number of decisions made every moment by many loosely coupled individual agents acting on local information. From this mass of interactions (i.e., iterations), regularities emerge and start to form a pattern, which feeds back on the system and informs the interactions of the agents. A period of flux occurs in all sectors in the
system until a new balance is established (via adaptation and self (re)organization) . Complexity theory gives us a whole new set of principles to reframe our work: complexity change and evolution adaptation self-organization emergence nonequilibrium chaos and tensions patterns and networks
holistic, synergistic interconnections and relations between individual and aggregate agents WRAP UP Collection of new perspectives Consumer justice Transformative consumer research Consumer acumen Moral leadership Non-violent consumerism And
Integral thinking there Transdisciplinarity are Complexity theory more! Common threads for reframing our consumer work: Complexity Multiple perspectives and realities Multiple sectors and actors
Multiple truths Transformation, transcendence and dialogue Beyond disciplines and fragmentation Inclusiveness Wisdom and discerning judgements Non-violence Moral leadership Justice Integral (holistic) thinking We would approach our consumer
work with a different set of assumptions, different principles and concepts, a different range of theories and conceptual frameworks, and a deeper respect for transdisciplinary and transectoral collaboration. We would anticipate totally different results and processes, undertaken with a wider range of actors and sectors.
Additional Resources McGregor Consulting Group website, section on research about transdisciplinarity http://www.consultmcgregor.com/research.php?cid =8
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