…the study of economic systems from the perspective of their consumer foundations, with a focus on the importance of individual economic rights.
So the detail description has it. But what does that mean?
It means Analytical Consumer Economics (ACE) is radically different from most fields of economics in that it works from the perspective and needs of consumers and looks out and up at the rest of an economic system. Any economic system, up to and including the economy of the US and world.
Why is that radical? Because the vast majority of economic theories and studies work downward from the major components, through the chain of business, industry and wealth… and sometimes never even get to the consumer. Those that do often treat consumers as a monolithic entity of no concern except as the final link in the chain of economic exchanges. It’s not too extreme to say that “consumers don’t exist in economics”… because in the vast number of instances, the economic chain ends with “sales.” And a sale is not a purchase, nor the purchaser.
Furthermore, even in consumer-centric economic study, there is still the integral idea that business and profit are the essential core of wealth and economic well-being. Consumer interactions are judged on a transactional basis, in that if the financial/value equation is balanced, the transaction—sale, purchase—is thus “fair.” There is no consideration that profit may be at a detrimental cost to the purchaser, because business is inherently virtuous in economics.
The failure of economics to consider consumer needs and rights is utterly endemic, because modern economics is the working language of business, industry and wealth. Its language, terms, assumptions and principles favor business, profit and accumulation of wealth with almost no consideration of ethics, consequences and non-financial costs. A business is “bad” only if it does something patently illegal (although many illegalities of accounting, investing and tax reporting are winked at as crypto-virtues); or if it gets caught somehow injuring consumers or third parties such as the environment. The punishment for this ill behavior, in economic considerations, is the horror of reduced profits.
There are countless movements and arguments in favor of consumers, consumer rights and consumer well-being, but all are the equivalent of trying to play tennis in the middle of a World Series game; the rules, authorities and very playing field is completely against them. Some of the most egregious violations of consumer, personal, individual and family rights are brushed off because the economics are impeccable… by business, profit and legal standards. The individuals and groups that carry on this fight are to be admired but rarely accomplish anything but temporary victories over the vast press of “righteous” economic dogma.
Therefore, a field such as ACE is long overdue. A platform from which to study economics not from the privileged perspective of business and accumulated wealth, but from the perspective of the real foundation of all economics and economic system: the consumer. A field in which insulated economic entities are forced to address such issues as the consequences of invasive marketing and fostering over-consumption; a field in which products and markets are held up for examination of real value, not “success” because consumers have been induced to support them.
A field which genuinely levels the playing field for the individual, the family, the community… the consumer.
—published on Quora, 13 Dec 2021