What is it about?
The idea of choice is fundamental and foundational to capitalist countries with democratic polities... and of course the very basis for the field of marketing. Yet, a fundamental question is rarely asked: Who decides (or how the decision emerges) as to what choice options become available to us? This article shows that as one moves from micro to macro levels, the choice fields become narrow - and very slanted towards profiles that benefit the captains of capitalism, but not the people at large.
Why is it important?
This award-winning article, even 30+ years later, is ahead of its time... it is, at some level, really subversively explosive, because it interrogates the other side of the choice process: the process by which choice options emerge (or do not emerge). The entire capitalist enterprise, built on the ideological cornerstone of "freedom of choice", could crumble if we begin to realize that, at more macro levels, the patterns of choice and consumption are such that we have very low, or no, choice.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Consumption Choices at the Macro Level, Journal of Macromarketing, December 1982, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/027614678200200202.
You can read the full text:
Nikhilesh Dholakia on Google Scholar
Comprehensive portal into, and continually updating bibliographic database of, scholarly works by Nikhilesh Dholakia, including significant ensuing work after this publication.
A. Fuat Fırat - The Intellectual Journey of his Ideas and Influence
Read this interview of A. Fuat Fırat, by Alan Bradshaw and Nikhilesh Dholakia, to trace the intellectual history of the development of ideas of postmodernism, and critical and radical perspectives on consumption and marketing. Some of the key works by A. Fuat Fırat are in collaboration with Nikhilesh Dholakia and/or Alladi Venkatesh.
Choice and choicelessness: A spiritual perspective
Ecological-spiritual perspective from Satish Kumar.
Choice and choicelessness: Nikhilesh Dholakia and Ruby Roy Dholakia explore the idea
Towards a theoretical framework that puts choicelessness (in consumer settings) on an equal footing with choice.
Dan Ariely and Choice Architecture: A popular explanation
Examples and explanations of the choice architecture concepts of Dan Ariely.
Thaler, Ariely, others: Choice Architecture
Author draws implications for marketing practice.
Thaler, Sunstein, Ariely, others: Choice Architecture
More on the ways in which behavioral economics approaches choice... some advance, for sure, but the key micro-meso-macro dynamic of choice introduced by Fuat Firat, Nikhilesh Dholakia and Ruby Roy Dholakia still eludes the research enterprises of economics, psychology and b-schools.
Elton Rayack: Not So Free to Choose
A counterpunch to the ideologically strong free-market free-choice no-holds-barred no-government paean of Milton Friedman.
Myth, Tyranny, Reality of Choice: Review of 4 books
Choice processes and ideas are now, 2-3 decades after the Firat/Dholakia work, are getting some serious attention.
Renata Salecl: Tyranny of Choice
About the book: "Today we are encouraged to view our lives as being full of choice. Like products on a supermarket shelf, our identities seem to be there for the choosing. But paradoxically this freedom can create anxiety, and feelings of guilt and inadequacy. In The Tyranny of Choice, acclaimed philosopher and sociologist Renata Salecl explores how late capitalism's shrill exhortations to 'be yourself' are leading to ever-greater disquiet..."
Ben-Porath: Tough Choices
This book "charts a middle course between freedom-oriented anti-interventionism and equality-oriented social welfare, presenting a way to structure choices that equalize opportunities while protecting the freedom of individuals to choose among them..."
Greenfield: Myth of Choice
About this book: "Kent Greenfield poses unsettling questions about the choices we make. What if they are more constrained and limited than we like to think? If we have less free will than we realize, what are the implications for us as individuals and for our society? ... many factors, conscious and unconscious, limit our free will. Worse, by failing to perceive them we leave ourselves open to manipulation."
Iyengar: Art of Choosing
Some complex questions explored in this book: "Is the desire for choice innate or bound by culture? Why do we sometimes choose against our best interests? How much control do we really have over what we choose?"
Gopal Iyer: Political economy of consumption, choice
A great historical perspective on consumption choices.
Dan Ariely: Predictably Irrational, Yes, But is there a choice...?
Professor Ariely does a reprise of his very influential and popular book.
Exit, Voice, Loyalty, Neglect: EVLN
Albert O. Hirschman's very famous "Exit, Voice and Loyalty" framework has been extended to include "Neglect", creating EVLN as the "choice options"... Many studies of job satisfaction and org behaviors seem to explore EVLN. A question to ponder: Does EVLN apply in consumer, voter and other choice settings?
Questioning the Religion of Choice: Avi Shankar and colleagues
Choice is such an article of faith (a veritable religion), that in society and particularly in b-school academe, the value of choice is never questioned. This one is a rare exception.
The Economist: Why Americans don't ride trains
No, the conservative bus sensible Brit magazine does not use "choicelessness" but... comes close... "per capita, the Japanese, the Swiss, the French, the Danes, the Russians, the Austrians, the Ukrainians, the Belarussians and the Belgians all accounted for more than 1,000 passenger-kilometres by rail in 2011; Americans accounted for 80. Amtrak carries 31m passengers per year. Mozambique's railways carried 108m passengers.."
Google Scholar Page: A. Fuat FIRAT
The iconic scholar (and main author of this piece) whose early work inspired this article...
Public Choice Society
This interdisciplinary group DOES study the way choice options emerge, get shaped, get controlled, get promoted, etc. Seems, however, to lack critical stances and true ability to escape "economism".
Sclerotic Political Economy: Steven Hill
This commentator believes the sclerosis of the American political system is a root cause of contemporary American problems; and that reforms could save things.
Questioning Choice Surfeit: Shankar etal
Available FULL TEXT of this article that critically questions the value of a surfeit of choice, using ideas of Foucault.
A blogger vents on the severe lack of economic as well as political choices in Canada.
ResearchGate site with FULL TEXT
ResearchGate site of first author Fuat FIRAT has FULL TEXT (with page views) of this paper.
Consumption Patterns: UNEP efforts
Outlines efforts by United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) to steer nations towards sustainable consumption patterns.
Consumption Patterns: More UN efforts
This is a UN report on moving toward sustainable household consumption patterns.
Consumption Patterns: UNEP report
This UNEP report is about making food consumption patterns more sustainable.
Consumption Patterns: China
China's changing consumption patterns represent one of the most ongoing and profound social change in today's world.
ImpactStory Page: Nikhilesh Dholakia
Multidimensional window into this author's research portfolio.
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