Superficial citizens and sophisticated consumers: what questions

Stated preference surveys have been criticised for many biases and uncertainties, including whether the “product” valued is seen symbolically or as means to “moral satisfaction”. Recently, criticism has focused on their propensity to elicit consumer valuations, in a context where citizen values are deemed more appropriate. Thus surveys have been conducted which explicitly elicit citizen values. Often these emulate the format of a referendum. It is not clear that in a referendum people would vote other than for their own best interest. Nevertheless, reflecting in citizen mode is likely to restructure people’s values. A genuinely selfless citizen would promote “the best good of all”, which is largely an aggregate of individual values, with some ill-defined communitarian supplement. Understood in these senses, values revealed from citizen-format questionnaires may better represent consumer values than consumerformat questionnaires do: they legitimise the profession of individual values, and reduce problems of protest votes and of confusion between “willingness to pay” and “willingness to play” (the valuation game).

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Scandinavian Forest Economics: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Scandinavian Society of Forest Economics
2006, 41
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