An alternative market for well-being: reconnecting producers and consumers through shared commitments
Markets have increased consumption, but not necessarily improved social connections, also a vital part of well-being. Producers and consumers are anonymous to one another in the traditional capitalist paradigm, where each individual pursues his or her own gain on the grounds that markets effectively promote the interest of society. This thesis considers an alternative premise for an economy that balances financial and social benefits, where consumers and producers are reconnected for mutual benefit. An exploratory mixed methods research approach was applied to the case of a predominant alternative food network in Turkey. First, qualitative data collection and analysis revealed shared commitment between the owner, employees, and customers of this network. Second, through customer and employee surveys, the collective action, congruent values and goals, and concern for the future welfare of others dimensions of shared commitment between actors were measured and a structural model of its impact on well-being tested. The findings demonstrate the existence of an alternative market model, founded on shared commitment, which improves well-being for producers and consumers. Despite limitations in the community that can be built among consumers and producers who live geographically distant from one another, it is hopeful for an urbanizing world that shared commitments can still develop and well-being can be improved. Although the findings point to some vulnerabilities to dark sides, the research overall shows the well-being potential of shared commitment outweighs the risk of ill-being. A re-socialized market can facilitate reduced alienation, rather than just instrumental exchanges, and enhance well-being.