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Business and Professional Ethics Journal

ONLINE FIRST

published on May 2, 2014

Steve Tammelleo, Louis G. Lombardi
DOI: 10.5840/bpej20145110

Consumer Social Responsibility?

We develop a vision of consumer responsibility in purchasing decisions in light of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ boycotts. These boycotts succeeded in convincing large fast food companies and national supermarket chains to pay tomato growers a penny more per pound, to improve working conditions and wages for pickers. The C.I.W. efforts to generate consumer support eschewed claims associated with rule-based obligations in favor of appeals more typically associated with virtue and caring ethics. The strategies encouraged consumers to understand the plight of tomato pickers and to extend concern in an effort to improve the world. These strategies are associated more with encouragement to contribute to the social good rather than claims that in refusing to help, consumers would fail to fulfill an obligation. Insights from virtue ethics and caring ethics are offered as a model for a broader account of consumer social responsibility.