BACKGROUND With the “new consumer policy” which was proclaimed as a reaction to the European-wide crisis of trust in food (BSE crisis) in the late 1990s, a new area of public visibility and political activism of this policy field has begun. New institutions on the European (e.g., the European Food Safety Agency) and the national level (e.g., the German Federal Agency for Consumer Protection) as well as new policy goals have been introduced. Moreover, consumer policy is confronted with a new leitbild of sustainable consumption which presents an overall policy goal of the EU and of the national governments.
MAIN TOPICS Against this backdrop, this course gives an overview of the development and present state of European and national consumer policy, politics, and polity. Basic theories (which mostly stem from Political Economics and Public Choice), key issues (e.g., price, quality) and key concepts (e.g., consumer “exit and voice” such as boycotts, collective action) are introduced. Consumer policy goals, strategies, and instruments are analyzed and evaluated. Examples and case studies will be draw mostly from the food area.
Course outline: I: The basics of consumer policy: Challenges; Types, aims and scope II: Policy making and policy analysis: Actors and processes, Policy analysis III: Focus: European Consumer Policy IV: Special consumer policy: Sustainability policy V: From learning to action
Lecturers: Lucia Reisch and John Thøgersen
PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT; QUALIFICATIONS AND COMPETENCES After completing the course students should have obtained an overview of European consumer policy and an understanding of the most important concepts and theories in consumer policy research, they should be able to select appropriate concepts and theories for analyzing consumer policy cases, and they should be able to critically assess the appropriateness of consumer policy instruments and interventions for solving a practical consumer policy problem.
Specifically, the course should provide students with these competences:
• knowledge and understanding of the most important issues and instruments in European consumer policy • knowledge and understanding of the most important concepts and theories in consumer policy research, including how they relate to one another • ability to select and apply appropriate concepts, theories and instruments for consumer policy applications • ability to critically assess the appropriateness of consumer policy instruments and interventions for solving a practical consumer policy problem.
EVALUATION OF LEARNING OUTCOME. ASSESSMENT CRITERIA Grade 12: The student contributes actively and constructively to the class learning process through timely, positive and appropriate verbal and other input to in-class discussions and activities. The student documents that he/she has a comprehensive overview of the concepts, theories and instruments covered in the course and a sufficient knowledge about the fundamental assumptions underlying these concepts, theories and instruments. The student documents a comprehensive specific knowledge about the concepts, theories and instruments covered in the course reflected in an appropriate argumentation for the relevance or non-relevance of specific concepts, theories and instruments for a specific situation at hand. The student documents a complete general and specific ability to (a) identify appropriate concepts, theories and instruments for the consumer policy problem at hand, (b) convincingly apply the concepts and theories to the analysis of social problems, and (c) provide adequate and convincingly argued proposals for solutions to the problems dealt with.
Grade 02: The student contributes few, not very constructive and/or not very appropriate input to the class learning process. He/she documents a minimum acceptable overview and knowledge of the concepts, theories and instruments covered in the course. Some knowledge of assumptions underlying concepts, theories and instruments is documented, but the knowledge is partial and the argumentation for its relevance is uncertain. The student provides some arguments for the choice of concepts, theories and instruments, but short and incomplete. The argumentation is uncertain and showing little reflection. The student documents some ability to identify appropriate concepts, theories and instruments, apply them to the consumer policy problem(s) at hand, and provide solutions to the problem(s), but the total performance is characterized by a considerable level of uncertainty and lack of precision.
LITERATURE (preliminary) 1. Compendium with research articles, political documents & background papers, and cases.
The student must have at least a social science bachelor’s degree and basic training in marketing, including a basic course in consumer behaviour theory.