Collective ideological work for an alternative to consumerism: how an intentional community balances ideals and practice

Itir Binay, Jan Brace-Govan, Harmen Oppewal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper extends the discussion on alternatives to consumerism by examining how consumers may distance themselves from the market by entering communal interdependency, aspiring to create alternative social structures and culture. We apply the lens of ideological work to analyse how an eco-community in Turkey attempts to achieve a communally agreed ideal. A participatory ethnography allowed us to observe how this aspiring collective of individuals manage the tensions that arise between the variously derived ideals and the efforts to communally achieve the ideal. Specifically, our ethnography uncovers how aspirations for transformation from market dependence to communal interdependence are brought into existence through practical and symbolic ideological work. The paper presents the community members, their ideals and aspirations, and the community's activities. It discusses the challenges faced when the symbolism and practicalities of ideological work come together in quotidian life. The paper shows the role of ideological work in generating communally agreed alternatives to consumerism and in managing moral dilemmas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-107
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Consumer Behaviour
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

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