off site:

The eco guide to bottled water

Eco-friendly bottled water sounds like an oxymoron. But this cautionary tale suggests that sometimes it’s most pragmatic to find the most ethical bottled H2O. Source: The Guardian

Tania Lewis will be a keynote speaker at Food Politics: From the Margins to the Mainstream in 2016

Associate Professor Tania Lewis will be one of the keynote speakers at the Food Politics: From the Margins to the Mainstream conference to be held at the University of Tasmania from Thursday 30 June – Friday 1 July 2016.

The conference will examine how critiques of global, industrialised food systems have proliferated in recent years, while food practices previously considered ‘alternative’ or ‘marginal’ now increasingly enjoy mainstream visibility.

In the global North, concerns once limited to social and political movements motivated by animal rights, anti-corporate, health and environmental agendas appear on primetime television cooking shows, in the pages of best-selling non-fiction exposés, in produce-driven and provenance-focused restaurant menus, in the growing farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture movements, and in the labelling and advertising strategies of major food manufacturers.

Elsewhere in the world, grassroots movements for food security, food sovereignty, seed and wage rights are gaining prominence in local, national and global contexts.

What are the implications of this ‘mainstreaming’ of food politics? Does it make ethical, sustainable food accessible to more people? Does it signal changes to global food systems? Or does it simply offer new opportunities for marketing ‘spin’ and corporate greenwashing? What does the mainstreaming of food politics mean for grassroots alternative food movements? Where does food politics go from here?

Associate Professor Tania Lewis will also host a masterclass on Wednesday 29 June 2016, with details to follow.

Paula Arcari presents a paper at Minding Animals Conference in New Delhi, India

Research Assistant and PhD candidate Paula Arcari presented a paper at the thirsd Minding Animals Conference in New Delhi, India in January 2015. The 7-day conference was held at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and covered a range of themes in animal studies including Animals and Culture, Women and Animals, Animal Law and Public Policy, and others. The full program with keynote speakers is available (205kb .pdf).

Titled ‘“[It] makes me feel happy to be eating it”: Capturing complexity in constructions and practices of ethical and sustainable meat’, the abstract for this paper was based on preliminary findings from her empirical research with producers and consumers of meat labelled and promoted as being ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’. The final paper focused on the theme of categories and boundaries – specifically the categories in which we place animals and the boundaries between them that help maintain normalized practices of meat consumption and the use of animals as food.


Bringing the Chickens Home to Roost: The Mainstreaming of Ethical Consumption

On Wednesday 10 December 2014 Associate Professor Tania Lewis gave a free public lecture at the University of Tasmania titled ‘Bringing the Chickens Home to Roost: The Mainstreaming of Ethical Consumption’.

The rise of ethical or socially responsible consumption is an issue of major social significance, emerging as it does out of a broader range of concerns about the ongoing economic and environmental sustainability of unfettered consumer capitalism.

Variously referred to as ‘affirmative purchasing’ or ‘conscience consumption’, ethical consumption is an umbrella term that covers a range of consumer practices and concerns from animal welfare, labor standards and human rights to questions of health and wellbeing and environmental sustainability.

Read the flyer (1.9MB PDF) for more information.

Tania Lewis gives keynote at ANZCA conference, July 2014

Chief Investigator Tania Lewis has presented a keynote address to delegates of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association’s (ANZCA) annual conference. Held at Swinburne University, the 2014 conference addressed the theme, ‘The digital and the social: communication for inclusion and exchange’; the full program of speakers can be accessed here. Entitled ‘Bringing the Chickens Home to Roost: the mainstreaming of ethical consumption in Australia’, Tania’s paper offered a perspective on the increasing prominence of ethical concerns in the broadcast and digital mediascapes, and reflected on the ways in which media and communications scholars might explore the field.  (more…)

Research update – May 2014

Our first round of interviews is now well underway, and team members Kim and Ferne have been meeting and talking to range of people about the ‘state of play’ of ethical consumption in Australia. So far representatives from peak bodies that advocate for a range of ethical concerns have been interviewed, including Ethical Clothing Australia, the Victorian Farmers Markets Association, Shop Ethical!, Fair Trade Australia New Zealand, and Ethical Consumers Australia. We have a number of other organisations in our sights for interview before we move onto the next item on our fieldwork agenda: research into ethical retail, which will begin in Melbourne.

Cultural Economies of Hard Rubbish – a report for Moreland Council

hard rubbish

Hard rubbish left out for collection in Moreland (photo: Tania Lewis)

Together with colleagues from Swinburne University, Rowan Wilken and Malita Allan, EC team members Tania Lewis and Paula Arcari have prepared a report for Moreland Council in Melbourne’s inner north following ethnographic research conducted with residents who ‘glean’ from hard rubbish left on nature strips for collection by council contractors. This way of repurposing discarded goods is a form of ethical consumption, with a variety of concerns related to the environment, alternative forms of commodity consumption, and social responsiblity driving the practice. Below is the final ‘executive summary’ of the report, but the full report can be downloaded from Australian Policy Online. The document also includes a number of recommendations that the team makes to Moreland Council.


Conference: Living Responsibly – ethical issues in everyday life (Lisbon, May 2014)

EC team member and PhD candidate Paula Arcari will be presenting a paper at the upcoming 4th Global conference on responsible living in May 2014.  The conference asks, “How can we live responsibly, taking care of one another and of our planet? This is the question faced by everyone who wants, so far as they can, to do what is right, and it is at the heart of Living Responsibly: reflecting on the ethical decisions of everyday life.”  The full call for papers can be found here.


Whole foods meat wrapping (Source: social media)

Paula’s paper focuses on ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ meat as a response to the environmental and animal welfare issues associated with factory farmed meat. It proposes that normalised conceptions of meat and animals are reflected in, and reinforced by, dominant food discourses at multiple levels, contributing to policy and practices which by default treat meat as necessary and natural, and animals as a human resource. This is obstructing the emergence of new, and acknowledgement of existing responses to factory farmed meat that are more ethical and sustainable.

Below is the full abstract for the paper.



Welcome to the official website of the research project, ‘The rise of ethical consumption in Australia: from the margins to the mainstream’.

This project is funded for three years (2013-15) under the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project scheme, and is based at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

This nationwide project will be the first of its kind in Australia, and comes at a time when our nation and the world are facing considerable challenges—economic, environmental and social—as a result of excessive consumption. We have noticed an increasing focus on the ethical dimensions of consumption, and a sense that issues around the environment, sustainability, working conditions, animal welfare, fair trade, and other matters of ethical concern are becoming more prominent when people make, sell, buy, use and throw away consumer items.

We want to find out more about what people are thinking about and what people are doing in this sphere, and we are interested in many different perspectives. So in this study, we will be conducting research with consumers, retailers and producers, as well as key industry and consumer bodies, NGOs, and other stakeholders involved in the ethical marketplace to gather a comprehensive understanding of what we are calling a mainstreaming of ‘ethical consumption’.