Political Consumerism as a Means in Influencing Energy Policy and Solving Environmental Problems the Case of Finland in 2007-2016
Purpose of this study was to analyse, the extent to which political consumerism functioned in Finland as a mode of citizens’ political participation in the energy policy-making and in solving environmental problems caused by energy production and consumption. Political consumerism, that is, the consumption choices based on political, ethical, or environmental discretion, may be a substitute for conventional political participation, which is increasingly perceived as less efficient for solving societal problems. Finland and energy policy are particularly suitable venues for testing the role of political consumerism as a mode of political involvement for several reasons. For instance, popular support for political consumerism has been in Finland one of the highest by international standards together with other Nordic countries, Switzerland, and Germany, while energy has been a policy sector where citizens’ involvement is more limited than in the case of most other policy domains. The study focused on the period 2007-2016 which was characterized by the decreasing economic development and weakening legitimacy of the political system. Methodologically, the study was based on postal surveys conducted in 2007 and 2016 among a random sample representing 18 - 75-year old citizens. The findings of the study indicate that the citizenry ranked the conventional political participation (voting in elections) as well as collective modes of political consumerism (participatory political consumerism, discursive political consumerism) clearly less useful devices to influence energy policy than all individual forms of political consumerism (lifestyle politics, boycotting, boycotting). On the other hand, making use of various forms of political participation in energy policy-making accumulated for the same people. Despite the fact that political consumers were more dissatisfied with citizens’ involvement in energy policy-making than non-political consumers, they perceived voting in elections as a more useful device in influencing energy policy than non-political consumers. Moreover, the effects of prolonged recession and the election funding scandal on the endorsement of political consumerism in the context of energy policy have remained minor. This can be explained by that as the recession reduced citizens’ economic resources their consumption choices have based likely more on the economic consumerism than political consumerism that stresses more post-materialistic values. This was seen especially in that the endorsement of all devices in influencing energy policy decreased after 2007, excluding those that may provide economic benefits, such as asking for competitive tenders from electricity companies.
Political Consumerism as a Means in Influencing Energy Policy and Solving Environmental Problems the Case of Finland in 2007-2016, International Journal of Economy, Energy and Environment.
Vol. 3, No. 3,
2018, pp. 21-31.
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