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Consuming conflicts: consumer responsibility for armed conflicts in DR Congo and Nigeria

Aula, Ilari (2019) Consuming conflicts: consumer responsibility for armed conflicts in DR Congo and Nigeria. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis investigates one of the central concepts in International Relations Theory, responsibility, and the challenges that the globalisation of production poses to its conventional understandings. As individuals’ ties extend further beyond national boundaries, a myriad of harms enters the horizon of their moral appraisal. A case in point, in affluent democracies consumers are often urged to buy ‘ethically’ so that miseries ranging from labour rights violations to climate change and armed conflicts are ameliorated. However, approaches that systematically explore the grounds of consumers’ responsibility to do so are few and far between. Does the globalisation of supply chains give rise to consumers' moral responsibility to alleviate harms abroad? This thesis approaches the question from the perspective of global ethics. It draws on a reading of John Dewey’s work to treat actors’ capacities as a contingent compass to navigate through the challenges that global production processes present to consumers' habitual ways of moral thought and action. To generate the empirical basis for a plausible capacity-based argument, it launches a close study of consumers’ means to alleviate armed conflicts linked with the resource curse phenomenon in eastern DR Congo and southern Nigeria. The work contributes to contemporary studies of global ethics through a mid-level approach, as it draws on empirical research to rearticulate topical moral challenges. The three perspectives of guilty consumer claims, blame games and citizen-consumers weave the theoretical analysis with contemporary practices of assigning responsibility. While it is difficult to ameliorate resourcerelated armed conflicts by buying differently, in some cases purchase action may constitute a step towards a better world and individuals more capable of orienting through its ethical complexities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Ilari Aula
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Ainley, Kirsten

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