Self, nature and responsible consumption behaviour

2017-02-22T04:17:34Z (GMT) by Kunchamboo, Vimala
This research explores consumer representations of nature, motives to associate with nature and its implications on ecological worldviews and responsible consumption attitudes and behaviour. This study addresses the lack of theoretical explanation in the literature relating to motivation and the self-nature relationship, specifically on how, why and in what form consumers seek and maintain their relationship with the natural world. The aim is to build theory to explain how the self-nature relationship affects responsible consumption attitudes and behaviour. The research consists of two studies: Study One used data from an international environmental blog to explore how people create sense of self in relation to nature. Study Two explored how self-nature relationships affect responsible consumption behaviour. Data for the second study was collected using ethnography which was based on Malaysian consumers. Purposive sampling ensured data richness; that is, only participants who engaged with nature and expressed a concern for its preservation were selected. Overall the results show consumers construct personal meanings of nature through socialisation. Through the process of socialisation, the consumer comes to perceive nature as part of the self (relational extended-self, encapsulated self and sense of oneness), which positively influences ecological worldview and encourages responsible consumption attitudes and behaviour. While the theory of extended self has been applied to understand relationship with tangible possessions, there is limited application on intangible objects, such as nature. The developed conceptual frameworks offer theoretical advances on alternative ways to conceptualise the self-nature relationship. Nature perceived as external, as part or within self has implication for theory. Additionally, this research elaborates on the roles of emotional, spiritual and religious attachment to improve the understanding of the formation of ecological worldviews and identifies transcentric worldview as an additional ideology.This research provides in-depth insights into how consumers relate to nature, and the processes by which consumers come to view nature as part of their extended self to develop concern for nature, thus encouraging responsible consumption behaviour. This research contributes to knowledge in consumer research by exploring key drivers of responsible consumption attitudes and behaviour. Implications for theory, social marketing and policy development are discussed.