Agencing ethical consumers: smartphone apps and the socio-material reconfiguration of everyday life

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The aim of this paper is to describe and explain how smartphone apps,
designed to assist consumers in making informed ethical choices and
greening their everyday practices, enable and shape ethical consumption.
Taking a socio-material approach and drawing on an ethnographic study
of three ethical consumption apps – the Green guide, the Fair trade app
and Shopgun – the paper shows that these digital devices are scripted to
hybridize with consumers and facilitate key ethical consumer actions.
When consumers follow the scripts of these apps, using them in everyday
practices, the apps put pressure on consumers to act “ethically” by
problematizing consumption in various ways while also, and
simultaneously, endowing them with the agential capacities required to
solve these problems. Consequently, these devices both motivate
consumers and enable ethical consumption, producing, under the right
conditions, capable and self-reflexive ethical consumer hybrids.


External organisations
  • University of Gothenburg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic Geography


  • ethical consumption, digital, sustainability, smartphone, materiality
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-156
JournalConsumption Markets and Culture
Issue number2
Early online date2018 Apr 25
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 4
Publication categoryResearch