Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Khoo, S.
Global Studies Association conference
Khoo, S (2010) Re-interpreting the Consumer Citizen within the frames of global public citizenship and rights ,-3 September 2010
Merton College, Oxford
International Refereed Conference
Optional Fields
This paper explores the role of the alternative consumer movement, particularly alternative consumer mobilization in the global South, which re-interprets the globalized consumer citizen as global public citizen, reframing consumer concerns as matters of public health, public debate and public participation.  Over several decades, the alternative consumer movement has evolved a distinctive, conception of global public health which connects concerns about development, environment, health, nutrition and social justice. From beginnings in local issues, the alternative consumer movement began articulate and mobilize countervailing global visions to challenge market-driven and managed concepts of the public sphere with an alternative approach based on informed and critical participation, constructive accountability and rights.  The paper examines longstanding global consumer campaigns surrounding baby milk, pesticides and essential drugs. The historical case study shows how these campaigns widened and interconnected as local campaigns were scaled up into globalized agendas for nodal governance through the formation of ‘fast, furious and flexible’ information-sharing networks and coalitions (HAI, 2006). The analysis and discussion of these campaigns draws upon three theoretical tools: new approaches to public goods (New Public Goods, NPG), models of citizenship (Mullard, 2004) and theories of nodal governance (Burris, Drahos & Shearing, 2005). The NPG approach departs from formalist neoclassical theory, understanding ‘publicness’ as constituted by social norms and political processes of deliberation and contestation. NPG draws upon global public goods theory to define a ‘triangle’ of publicness that fits well with public health and human rights, emphasising publicness of benefits (inclusiveness), decision making (participatory) and consumption (fair and just) (Kaul, 2001; 2006). The discussion suggests that the alternative consumer movement has acted as a key global force mobilizing infant nutrition, pollution control and essential drugs as public goods. It re-interprets the idea of the consumer citizen as public citizen, capable of collective mobilization and demanding accountability, justice and rights from governments, the international system and transnational corporations, thus presenting public citizenship as a possible countervailing force to commodified, exclusionary and unjust forms of globalization.
NUIG Triennial Travel grant
Publication Themes