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'Alternative hedonism': exploring the role of pleasure in moral markets

Caruana, Robert; Glozer, Sarah; Eckhardt, Giana M.

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Robert Caruana

Sarah Glozer

Giana M. Eckhardt


Fair trade’, ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ consumption emerged in response to rising concerns about the destructive effects of hedonic models of consumption that are typical of late capitalist societies. Advocates of these ‘markets for virtue’ sought to supplant the insatiable hedonic impulse with a morally restrained, self-disciplining disposition to consumption. With moral markets currently losing their appeal, we respond to the tendency to view hedonism as an inhibitor of moral market behaviour, and view it instead as a potential enabler. Drawing upon the concept of ‘alternative hedonism’ (Soper, 2007, 2008, 2016, 2017), we illustrate how consumers experience both morality and pleasure concurrently; show how they attempt to reconcile these aspects of the experience; and elucidate the implications of so doing. Using the moral market for ethical tourism as an exemplar of ‘alternative hedonism’, we identify three ‘self-managing strategies’ – moderating, abiding and levelling – that re-structure the moral order of consumption in meaningful ways and with profound outcomes. In the context of anxieties about personal, social and ecological consequences of consumption, we show empirically how self managing strategies reify a less contradictory framing of consumption by tapping into alternative cultural discourses on morality. We discuss the consequences of these strategies, highlighting how they may legitimize and sustain consumption via moral markets despite the reproduction of social inequality and ecological threats.


Caruana, R., Glozer, S., & Eckhardt, G. M. (2020). 'Alternative hedonism': exploring the role of pleasure in moral markets. Journal of Business Ethics, 166, 143–158.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 27, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 27, 2019
Publication Date 2020-09
Deposit Date Feb 28, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 28, 2020
Journal Journal of Business Ethics
Print ISSN 0167-4544
Electronic ISSN 1573-0697
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 166
Pages 143–158
Keywords Alternative hedonism; Ethical consumption; Moral markets; Tourism
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