22 March 2005

Clarifying our Roles between Citizen & Consumer

My answer to Margaret's challenge below is another challenge:
How can we clarify our roles between citizen and consumer?

For me, I can begin to see from all the conferences, discussions, issues - and also our human need to belong and give from ourselves - that we have to start making informed and responsible choices about world issues, and local ones as well, from our roles as citizens and not from our roles as consumers.

For too long, we have behaved out of our consumer role...and this has led us into the permanent struggle of consumer politics. Statesmenship and active citizenship have gotten hijacked along the way by consumerism. It was fun while it lasted, but we gave corporations way too much power over our real lives, which then found it's way into the political agenda as a norm.

So many of us - now enabled through social media and technology - have acted on our social cause and banded together to enable a transformation. Even some corporations and businesses are acting on this - CSR - corporate social responsibility.

I will drop a very interesting fact here: By 2015, India will have 60 million PhD scientists, which is more than the whole of the population of the the UK and 4 times the population of The Netherlands. How will that impact our country and global economics? How will that impact our social agenda? How will that impact our creative capital?

How can we clarify our role of citizen and learn to act from that value paradigm when we are faced with the responsibility regarding difficult issues that impact our education, our health, our commons and our human welfare? How can we use our consumer role to empower our role as citizen to build the necessary bridges and the critical mass needed to get people to cross them?

Can we be more creative with information and knowledge to find innovative solutions to larger issues if we change our roles?

Please share your thoughts on this. Does this touch anyone?

Image borrowed from Roy Christopher with credit due and many thanks

Margaret Gold posted a challenge today on the The Dutch Connection Forum:
What is the frontier of our generation?
I just read the most amazing idea, in an HBS Working Knowledge article about how a group of fresh grads decided to start-up a company in the space industry:
"At the Space Foundation awards ceremony earlier that day, Webster had heard featured speaker Ben Bova quote from James Michener's novel Space, and in that moment, he knew he had to work in the space industry. "The quote was about how each generation is presented with a frontier," he says now. "And if you didn't find a way to work on your generation's frontier, you would miss the meaning of your own epic, your own age. Our frontier was, and is, space, and I wanted to be there."
It really got me to thinking - what is the frontier of my generation? Is it bioscience? Biotech? It seems too easy and short-sighted to say the Internet.....

Margaret Gold


John said...

The frontier for us is cooperation.


John Kellden

Natalie Shell said...

Colby I know this is an old post but Jochem sent me your post on MBA students today and I found this - yes, it touches me.

I too have been grappling with the role between citizen and consumer -how many of us will call a company if a chip packet doesn't have what we want in it, but do nothing if a law is passed goes against what we believe.

I don't know what this new frontier looks like but I feel it is about healing, re-caturing our imagination, remembering the human communication and community elements...collaborating and creating and...

I can see that the power of state as such is changing. I live in Australia and there are companies bigger than Australia so it isn't all that hard to see/feel.

I think that a part of the answer lies in using our voices as consumers to effect powerful and positive change. At the end of the day many small voices add up to very large changes. But it isn't all of it...