Journal Browser

Journal Browser

Special Issue "Sustainable Marketing and Civic Engagement: Business Campaigns for Social Justice"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 August 2021) | Viewed by 692

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Paul Baines
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Leicester School of Business. Brookfield Campus, LE7 7QP Leicester, UK
Interests: political marketing, propaganda, public opinion, civic engagement
Dr. Navdeep Athwal
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Leicester School of Business. Brookfield Campus, LE7 7QP Leicester, UK
Interests: sustainable marketing and consumption, luxury branding, social media marketing
Dr. Precious Akponah
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Leicester School of Business. Brookfield Campus, LE7 7QP Leicester, UK
Interests: waste, value, sustainable marketing and consumption, practices

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

To date, significant scholarly attention has been given to the environmental aspects of sustainability initiatives within organisations [1,2]; however, sustainability also consists of two other equally important pillars: social and economic [3]. In current times, the Black Lives Matter movement and the global coronavirus pandemic have amplified perceived inequalities in society. This exacerbation of social injustice has resulted in calls for not only climate and economic justice, but also racial justice and for further civic engagement from organisations to move from environmental and social governance to environmental and social justice [4]. This focus on social sustainability has the potential to enhance positive organisational impact on both employees and the wider community [5].

Researchers have previously [6,7] acknowledged the wide-ranging nature of social sustainability, which may include the education and training of local communities, activities that enhance health, social inclusion and quality of life. Examples include Starbucks’ pledge to hire 10,000 refugees in response to Trump’s travel bans, LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) manufacturing hand sanitiser to support shortages during the pandemic and Amazon’s solidarity with BLM protesters. What links all these organisations is their desire to respond to societal issues by riding or creating movements while enjoying reputational enhancement.

Perhaps an early societal issue which organisations sought to solve was the problem of waste, since they cause it, hence its long-standing intricate relationship with environmental justice [8]. Sir David Attenborough exposed the devastating effect of single-use plastics to ocean life, leading to “the Attenborough Effect”, where people have reduced their use of single-use plastic following their exposure on this BBC programme, Blue Planet II [9]. This demarketing effect with environmentally harmful products has meant some “ethically conscious” consumers are purchasing sustainably [10] while organisations have begun to become more accountable, with supermarkets charging for plastic bags, companies and other stakeholders turning to reverse supply chain logistics, aimed primarily at supporting the circular economy, reducing waste and improving sustainability more generally [11–13].

Inherent in all the above is the importance of the notion of “public” to the organisation. This represents a shift in thinking, which has been partly explained by the concept of stakeholder marketing [14,15], which itself suggests a shift from customer to societal centricity [16]. However, our thinking in this Special Issue goes a step further. Whilst stakeholder marketing takes into consideration other stakeholders in order to meet societal needs, we seek to disinter how organisations actually go about changing the fabric of society by running social justice campaigns. Within this is the democratic tension between responding to the needs of the market versus the needs of the collective, despite vested interests and the controversy associated with the issue selected. This creates a strategic organisational dilemma between zealously pursuing social justice but simultaneously risking upsetting existing stakeholders. This new form of sustainable-issue-based marketing shifts organisations into a new form of political marketing and new forms of persuasive appeal [17].

The diversity of business-led social sustainability is reflected in Sustainability, and in this call for papers; however, the thread that should bind them is the exploration of how organisations tackle societal issues or behave socially irresponsibly, further exacerbating social injustice. Example topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Organisations’ use of and/or campaigning for civil rights and social justice as a means to differentiate themselves in their sustainability practices and marketing;
  • Organisational use of cause-related, public issue, and political marketing campaigns;
  • Organisational reactions to public outcries related to perceived ethical breaches of marketing and unsustainable marketing activities;
  • Organisations’ use of technological tools as a means of tackling sustainable practices of consumption and disposal.


  1. Crane, A. Exploring green alliances. J. Mark. Manage. 1998, 14(6), 559–579, doi:1362/026725798784867734.
  2. Chien, C.A.; Peng, C. Does going green pay off in the long run. J. Bus. Res. 2012, 65(11), 1636–1642, doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2011.10.023.
  3. Basiago, A.D. Economic, social, and environmental sustainability in development theory and urban planning practice. Environmentalist 1999, 19, 145–161, doi:10.1023/A:1006697118620.
  4. Solitaire Townsend. Your 2030 Sustainability Targets Are Wrong. Available online: (23 September 2020).
  5. Lila Karbassi. Social Sustainability. Available online: (23 September 2020).
  6. Jabareen, Y.R. Sustainable Urban Forms Their Typologies, Models, and Concepts. J. Plan. Educ. Res. 2006, 26, 38–52, doi:10.1177/0739456X05285119.
  7. Dempsey, N.; Bramley, G.; Power, S.; Brown, C. The Social Dimension of Sustainable Development: Defining Urban Social Sustainability. Sustain. Dev. 2011, 19, 289–300, doi:10.1002/sd.417.
  8. Watson, M.; Bulkeley, H. Just waste? Municipal waste management and the politics of environmental justice. Local Environ. 2005, 10(4),411-426, doi:10.1080/13549830500160966.
  9. Barnes, S.J. Out of sight, out of mind: Plastic waste exports, psychological distance and consumer plastic purchasing. Glob. Environ. Change 2019, 58, 101943, doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.101943.
  10. Szmigin, I.; Carrigan, M.; McEachern, M.G. The conscious consumer: Taking a flexible approach to ethical behaviour. Int. J. Consum. Stud. 2009, 33(2), 224-231, doi:10.1111/j.1470-6431.2009.00750.x.
  11. Benton Jr. R. Reduce, reuse, recycle… and refuse. J. Macromarketing 2015, 35(1), 111-122, doi:11177/0276146714534692.
  12. Sarkis, J.; Helms, M.M.; Hervani, A.A. Reverse logistics and social sustainability. Corp. Soc. Responsib. Environ. Mgmt. 2010, 17, 337-354, doi:1002/csr.220.
  13. Akponah, P.O.; Lai, A.L.; Higgins, M. (forthcoming). In the Flow: Materiality, Value and Rubbish in Lagos. In Proceedings of European Advances in Consumer Research, Association for Consumer Research, Paris, France, 1-4 October 2020; Argo, J.; Lowrey, T.M.; Schau, H. Eds.
  14. Laczniak, G.R., & Murphy, P.E. Stakeholder theory and marketing: Moving from a firm-centric to a societal perspective.  Pub. Pol. & Mark. 2012,31(2), 284-292, doi:10.1509/jppm.10.106.
  15. Bhagwat ; Warren, N. L.; Beck, J.; Watson, G.F IV. Corporate Sociopolitical Activism and Firm Value. J. Mark. 2020, 84 (5), 1-21, doi:10.1177/0022242920937000.
  16. Hillebrand, B., Driessen, P.H., & Koll, O. Stakeholder marketing: Theoretical foundations and required capabilities.  Acad. Mark. Sci. 2015, 43(4), 411-428, doi:10.1007/s11747-015-0424-y.
  17. Antonetti, P.; Baines, P. and Jain, S. The persuasiveness of guilt appeals over time: Pathways to delayed compliance. Bus. Res. 2018, 90, 4–15, doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2018.03.030.

Prof. Paul Baines
Dr. Navdeep Athwal
Dr. Precious Akponah
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
Back to TopTop