CSR Issue Series  Consumer Power in

Consumer Power in the Logic of the Market: Real and Direct Democracy in Pursuit of CSR

Álvaro J. de Regil

This paper is prepared from the perspective of civil society and under the context of true democracy, where civil society directly participates in the public matter on a permanent basis, so that the public and private interests are reconciled and governments are made to truly work for all ranks of society and not for the owners of capital.

The essay argues that, given that governments have been co-opted by those who finance their electoral campaigns, there is currently no possibility of making corporate social responsibility (CSR) a comprehensive, mandatory and sustainable business practice. Today, fundamental issues, such as living wages, are systematically excluded from CSR practice. Hence, the pursuit of an ethos that genuinely responds to the demands of society has to follow the logic of the market. To this effect, the power of consumers over corporations to stop harming people or the environment is far more likely to bring meaningful results than parliaments or multilateral organisations, which lack the political will or the power to establish a valuable CSR framework. Álvaro de Regil, Executive Director of The Jus Semper Global Alliance, argues that consumer power is the only realistic strategy to make corporations practice a comprehensive and genuine CSR because it follows the logic of the market and directly affects the bottom line. In fact, corporations can become very competitive by securing consumer support whilst enduring a consumer boycott can be far more costly than incorporating sustainable business practices.

The author illustrates his arguments by showing the natural disposition of consumers to support social causes and with real cases where consumer power has forced corporations to improve business practice and cases where their refusal to change their ways has cost them dearly.

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