Current Research

My book chapter, “Prohibition, Legalization, and Political Consumerism: Insights from the US and Canadian Cannabis Markets” was invited by scholars Magnus Boström (Sweden), Michele Micheletti (Sweden), and Peter Oosterveer (The Netherlands) to be included in their forthcoming edited volume, The Oxford Handbook of Research on Political Consumerism (Oxford University Press). Cannabis (marijuana) is the most commonly consumed, universally produced, and frequently trafficked psychoactive substance prohibited under international drug control laws. Yet, several countries have recently moved toward legalization. In these places, the legal status of cannabis is complex, especially because illegal markets persist. This chapter explores the ways in which a sector’s legal status interacts with political consumerism. The analysis draws on a case study of political consumerism in the US and Canadian cannabis markets over the past two decades, as both countries moved toward legalization. It finds that the goals, tactics, and leadership of political consumerism activities changed as the sector’s legal status shifted. It suggests that prohibition, semi-legalization, and new legality may present special challenges to political consumerism, such as silencing producers, confusing consumers, deterring social movement organizations, and discouraging discourse about ethical issues. The chapter concludes that political consumerism and legal status may have deep import for one another.

My book chapter, “After 20 Years of Fair Trade: Seven Contemporary Debates and a Discussion of What Next” was invited by scholars Katharine Legun, Julie Keller, Michael Bell, Michael Carolan to be included in their forthcoming edited volume, The Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Sociology (Cambridge University Press). In recognition of the 20-year anniversary of Fairtrade International, the NGO that manages the world’s leading fair trade certification program, this chapter describes the current landscape of fair trade, identifies key debates among scholars and movement members, presents literature from various perspectives, and discusses possibilities for the future. The chapter is organized around seven debates: 1) Is competition among labels a race to the top or the bottom? 2) Should labeling organizations be governed by multinational corporations or farmers and workers? 3) Is the renewed debate around living wages fulfilling old promises or limiting market penetration? 4) Do close corporate collaborations lead to co-optation or large-scale change? 5) Should efforts focus on hired workers, small farm owners, or both? 6) Should fair trade be brought to the Global North through new programs or by expanding existing labels? 7) Are new transparency tools (e.g., QR readers) the ultimate in consumer empowerment or information without impact? Overall, this piece is an extensive literature review organized to give a clear understanding of the state of fair trade after 20 years and offer provocative suggestions about what these findings mean for the coming decades.

My article “Social movement organizations, the private sector, and political consumerism: learning from the new recreational cannabis industry” was invited by scholars Francesca Forno (Italy) and Graeme Hayes (UK) to be submitted as part of a special issue of the peer-reviewed academic journal Environmental Politics. The article draws on a case study of how industry actors and social/environmental movement groups responded to the opportunity to support ethical consumerism in the recreational marijuana sector in Oregon in the first two years after legalization (fall 2015-fall 2017). The analysis contributes to the literature on the intersection of political consumerism and social/environmental movements by illustrating how stigmas can limit social movement groups from participating in ethical consumption, and highlighting the shortcomings of industry-led ethical consumerism.