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Greener than Thou: How the Rhetoric of the Green Food Market Reinforces Socioeconomic Hierarchies through the Illusion of Moral Superiority

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dc.contributor.author Corp, Piper
dc.creator Corp, Piper
dc.date 2009-04-30
dc.date.accessioned 2009-07-25T20:04:25Z
dc.date.available NO_RESTRICTION en
dc.date.available 2009-07-25T20:04:25Z
dc.date.issued 2009-07-25T20:04:25Z
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/1920/4582
dc.description.abstract The market for “green” foods has expanded in recent years, largely due to the powerful rhetoric it employs. The rhetorical strategy behind green consumerism draws on deeply embedded cultural narratives to assert a rift between consumers and nature, a rift that is both initially unavoidable and entirely resolvable through acts of consumption. Green consumption is thus presented as an opportunity for enlightenment (e.g. living in harmony with nature) and political activism (e.g. protecting nature by supporting sustainable agriculture). Drawing on the theories of Lyotard and Debord, this thesis suggests that these two features create an occasion particularly well-suited for acts of differential representation. Consumption, in other words, provides consumers with the feeling of social responsibility and spiritual ascendance, which together create an illusion of moral superiority. By definition, this superiority only has meaning with reference to an amoral other, a role inhabited in this case by non-green consumers. This discourse is particularly problematic because of the significant price difference between green and non-green products—individuals without the financial means to purchase green products are recast as amoral consumers. A moral hierarchy emerges on top of the existing socioeconomic hierarchy, creating what appears to be a morally justified elite. It is ultimately this discourse, rather than a desire for environmental reform, that sustains green consumerism.
dc.language.iso en_US en
dc.subject green consumerism en_US
dc.subject rhetoric en_US
dc.subject self-representation en_US
dc.subject green marketing en_US
dc.subject organic food en_US
dc.subject environmentalism en_US
dc.title Greener than Thou: How the Rhetoric of the Green Food Market Reinforces Socioeconomic Hierarchies through the Illusion of Moral Superiority en
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.name Master of Arts in English en
thesis.degree.level Master's en
thesis.degree.discipline English en
thesis.degree.grantor George Mason University en


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