The Social Pedagogy of Wall Street: Stock Trading as Political Activism?
Journal of Consumer Policy, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 177-199, 2007
35 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2006 Last revised: 17 Oct 2010
Date Written: 2007
In this paper we argue that the connectivity of the networked market permits market participants to perceive causal relationships between consumer behaviour and its effects on others. We theorize that the globally networked markets of the information age give birth to new cognitive structures that underlie consumers' novel sense of responsibility, aid the re-orientation of consumers' self-interest, and inculcate in consumers what historian Thomas Haskell (1985) calls humanitarian sensibility. Drawing from interviews with individual online investors, we present a model of the market that posits the market as a source of social consciousness and moral decision-making. Furthermore, we illustrate that individual online investors often incorporate such sensibilities into their consumer decision making. Based on our results, we propose a corrective to the current trend among economists, social scientists, and consumer researchers to conceive of the market as a threat to consumer autonomy, social and moral responsibility, and an enlightened citizenry. Instead, we believe that the market has many faces, one of which, specifically the globally networked market, provides the condition of possibilities to recognize and perform consumption as a critical, moral, and socially conscious political act.
Keywords: virtual networks, network society, consumer empowerment, consumer resistance, qualitative consumer research, personal investing
JEL Classification: D12,M30,Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
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By Paul Harpur