Raynolds, Laura T. 2017. “Bridging North / South Divides through Consumer Driven Networks.” Pp. 167-178 in B. Halkier et al. (eds.) Routledge Handbook on Consumption. New York: Routledge.
Scholars and activists have sought to identify avenues for addressing rising global disparities, focusing largely on reconfiguring production. This chapter shifts our focus to the realm of consumption, exploring the challenges and opportunities for consumers and consumption activities to help bridge global North/South divides. How can consumers confront growing inequalities and foster global social justice through their consumption activities? My analysis builds theoretically on political economy approaches to explaining North/South inequalities in production/consumption networks and social movement approaches to explaining the role of consumers and their actions in promoting global social justice. I propose that a theoretical synthesis of these approaches is essential for understanding the possibilities for bridging North/South divides, since a political economy approach best explains the historically rooted structures that undergird global inequalities while a social movement perspective identifies most clearly the power of social actors to challenge those inequalities.