TitleMorality Appraisals in Consumer Responsibilization
Publication TypeJournal Articles
AuthorsBarnhart, M, Huff, A, Scott, I
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Date Published2023 In Press
KeywordsBusiness Law, Marketing

Abstract: In recent decades, U.S. “pro-gun” lobbying groups, politicians, courts, and market actors have sought to responsibilize U.S. consumers to use firearms to address the societal problem of crime. These responsibilization efforts center an interpretation of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms as an entitlement for individuals to engage in armed protection from criminals. Using interview and online discussion data, this research investigates consumers’ responses to responsibilization for this morally fraught set of behaviors, and the role of consumers’ various understandings of the right to bear arms in these responses. Findings show that acceptance of responsibilization is a matter of proportionality; consumers accept responsibilization for a proportion of specific armed protection scenarios and reject it for the remainder. Acceptance is determined by their appraisals of the morality of the responsibilization sub-processes (Giesler & Veresiu 2014). Consumers’ understanding of the constitutional right serves as a heuristic in these appraisals, with some understandings leading consumers to accept responsibilization across a much larger proportion of scenarios than others. Contributions include illustrating response to responsibilization as a proportionality; illuminating consumers’ active role in appraising responsibilizing efforts; and demonstrating how some consumers come to understand a responsibilized behavior as a moral entitlement.