Consumption Choices at the Macro Level

  • A. Fuat Firat, Nikhilesh Dholakia
  • Journal of Macromarketing, December 1982, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/027614678200200202

A critical look at "Choice"

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.


Dr Nikhilesh Dholakia
University of Rhode Island

With fossil fuel carbon emissions as a major cause of oft-catastrophic global climate change, it is really time to revisit this classic piece; and the renew the research interest in macro-level choice processes in energy production, fuel types, transportation modes, heating and cooling methods, types of abodes and workplaces, supply chain choices and more. The robust framework introduced here rings more relevant in 2015 that it did in 1982.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Nikhilesh Dholakia