Vulnerable Communities / Publication Abstract

Freedom of the Will and Consumption Restrictions

Sep 9, 2019

Ronald Paul Hill

Vulnerable Communities
Macromarketing & Public Policy


There is a long-standing interest in business ethics around the concept of free will, but study of its possible influence on consumer behavior is only in the nascent stage. This lack of research is particularly acute in certain consumption contexts, especially ones based on highly restricted access that appear to suggest abrogation of the will. In this paper, we offer a novel approach that involves reexamination of qualitative/ethnographic research that has chronicled consumption restrictions without consideration of potential implications for free will. Using a new reanalysis method, we show that some of what is described as “vulnerability” using other theoretical paradigms is subsumed within this domain. Findings demonstrate that a complex relationship between free will and various consumption processes and outcomes exists that is acted out within and outside licit and illicit/formal and informal markets. These restrictions allow for a different vantage point to address free will and consumption, with implications for business ethicists and researchers interested in human quality treatment or human dignity-centered business frameworks.

Read the full article: