Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 29, 2017

Helping Working Children through Consumocratic LawA Global South Perspective

P. Martin Dumas

Abstract

On the basis of an in-depth case study of a transnational governance scheme driven by consumers and designed to fight child labour in Southern Asia – RugMark (now GoodWeave), co-founded by Peace Nobel Prize recipient Kailash Satyarthi – we identify and describe a number of characteristics peculiar to the consumocratic system of regulation, before examining the impact of information transparency within it. A number of theoretical scenarios emerge from the identification of four critical factors in the regulation of the societal information shared with consumocrats: (1) the degree of subjective veracity and comprehensiveness of available information; (2) the more or less comforting nature of this information; (3) the culminating outcomes to which it refers; and (4) its degree of objective veracity. All societal information is not theoretically bound to convey comforting messages to consumers inclined to consider the well-being of others. This message, while accurately reflecting the results achieved by local consumocratic organisations, may as well reflect the more or less controversial choices made in the pursuit of desirable goals, such as improving the fate of working children. It could also shed light on the flaws (e. g., ethical, technical, managerial) of this system of regulation by exposing its own limits to a better informed public. By opting for the transmission of messages subject to public controversy or worth a mea-culpa, the local regulators of this information would inevitably confront some risks (e. g., judicial, economic, socio-organisational). Under which conditions could these risks be reasonably taken? Quid of their likely impact on altruistic dispositions? From a pragmatic and Global South perspective, a non-paternalist analysis of transparency as a regulatory tool, it is shown, leads to recognising the utility of repositioning consumocratic activity on original, constitutional foundations, before envisaging the development of increasingly transparent and efficient tools in this regard.

Acknowledgment

The author wishes to thank the anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of an earlier version of this article.

Published Online: 2017-8-29
Published in Print: 2017-9-26

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston