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Inequalities in Political Consumerism: Spain and Switzerland Compared

European Politics
Political Participation
Political Activism
Political Engagement
Jasmine Lorenzini
University of Geneva
Jasmine Lorenzini
University of Geneva

Abstract

In this paper, I propose to compare participation in boycotting products in Spain and Switzerland during the 2000s. Research shows that inequalities impair access to various forms of political participation. Those citizens suffering from economic hardship, facing unemployment, or confronted to poverty are less likely to make their voices heard through various means. Political consumerism is no exception and is often criticized for its narrow appeal to citizens belonging to an elite in terms of economic and cultural capital. I use seven waves of the European Social Survey to analyze how socioeconomic inequalities shape participation in political consumerism over time. I argue that when a specific form of participation becomes more widespread, it also draws citizens from different socioeconomic backgrounds. It becomes more accessible and it is no longer as restricted to an economic and cultural elite. I hypothesize that as boycotting becomes a more common form of political participation, the more heterogeneous boycotters will be. Furthermore, I argue that the economic crisis that hit Europe after 2008 contributes to this growing heterogeneity in political consumerism. When citizens collectively face economic difficulties, they seek alternative modes of consumption and are more likely to engage in political consumerism. Again, this growing involvement in political consumerism is expected to reduce inequalities in participation.