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The root and responsibility model: a framework for ethical consumption

Philip Baron (University of Johannesburg, Doornfontein, South Africa)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 11 November 2013




Much information is hidden from consumers including social and environmental violations, poor labour practices and unethical economic activities. This paper aims to present a model for both consumers and corporations that can assist in empowering consumers when making purchasing decisions by bringing the behind the scenes information to the buyer. A responsibility rating is provided at each step in the production chain.


The paper provides an argument with research findings of how consumers are linked to their purchases, and how these purchases contribute to the current manufacturing cycle and perpetuation of land and labour abuses.


Consumers can influence the product lifecycle of their chosen products. The model provides a mechanism for consumers to purchase items that are in keeping with their worldview. A certifiable standard for corporations is presented.

Practical implications

Consumers are provided with a system that they can immediately obtain the responsibility ratings of any of their chosen products in real-time. Companies with low responsibility ratings lose out in their sales revenue and are thus motivated to change their production methods. Companies would compete in an atmosphere of total disclosure regarding social and environmental matters giving rise to a new ethic of consumerism.


A new form of consumerism is uncovered, one that takes the recursive nature of consumer actions into account.



Baron, P. (2013), "The root and responsibility model: a framework for ethical consumption", Kybernetes, Vol. 42 No. 9/10, pp. 1325-1337.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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