American Sociological Association

Do Green Behaviors Earn Social Status?

Do green behaviors earn social status among liberals and conservatives? Although evidence shows that high-status consumers incorporate ecological concerns into their consumption choices, politically polarized views on environmentalism in the United States complicate the relationship between green behaviors and status. A vignette experiment shows that across political ideology, people grant status to green consumption. Results from semistructured interviews suggest that green consumers are seen as wealthy, knowledgeable, and ethical, although these status beliefs vary with political ideology. The findings reveal unlikely common ground between liberal and conservative judgments of green behaviors and indicate that green consumption is an emerging domain for evaluating social status.

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Emily Huddart Kennedy and Christine Horne