Political consumerism and new forms of political participation: the Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale in Italy
Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science, Issue 644, 2012: 121-133
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Over the past years, critical consumerism has become one the most promising research fields in social movement studies. In particular, in numerous democratic political regimes new forms of contentious politics connected to individual and collective political use of consumption which organize collective forms of trade and ‘alternative’ consumption (such as the so called Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale, or Solidarity Purchase Groups – SPG, in Italy) have emerged and consolidated. Currently, there is limited availability of information regarding on the one hand the diffusion of organized forms of political consumerism in Europe which go beyond mere boycott activities, and on the other hand the influence of such forms of political participation in contemporary democracies. Therefore, the aim of this article is to provide an in-depth exploratory case study on the SPGs in Italy which will investigate more specifically the main definitional, organizational and socio-demographic features of such new forms of political participation. The article shows that the Italian SPGs are pressure (local) movements which go beyond more conventional forms of political consumerism by adopting innovating organizational and political participation tools.