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The first part of our analysis focused on the range of criteria that consumers use to categorise which individuals were slaves and those that were not. Consumers identified a range of underlying conditions that increased individuals’ vulnerability to becoming slaves. Questions of proximity versus distance, services versus products were also explored.

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Consumer Neutralisations

The second part of our analysis focused on why and how consumers (do not) act upon issues of modern slavery. Questions of moral intensity and the range of accounts and justifications that consumers use in order to alleviate potential feelings of guilt and personal responsibility were explored.

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Consumer Trust and Responsibility

The final part of our analysis addressed questions of consumer trust towards labels, modern slavery statements and perceived responsibilities within a multi-stakeholder environment (including NGOs, businesses, government).



Modern slavery involves: “a relationship in which one person is controlled by another through violence, the threat of violence, or psychological coercion, and has lost free will and free movement, is exploited economically, and is paid nothing beyond subsistence” (Bales et al. 2009, p. 31). 

This preliminary study investigates how consumers understand modern slavery and their role in perpetuating and/or eradicating modern slavery, bringing together a unique collaboration of investigators who are at the forefront of consumer research in consumption ethics.





Download the complete Consuming Modern Slavery report by Dr Michal Carrington, Prof Andreas Chatzidakis and Prof Deirdre Shaw in PDF format [3.1MB].


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Further Information

The findings in this report represent preliminary research which is now being taken forward into the larger scale proposed study.

If you would like any further information on the current research and the work going forward, to discuss the research or to request hard copies of this report, please get in touch. Thank you.