Fostering Responsible Communities: A Community Social Marketing Approach to Sustainable Living

Marylyn Carrigan*, Caroline Moraes, Sheena Leek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Just as socially irresponsible organizational behavior leaves a punitive legacy on society, socially responsible organizations can foster curative change. This article examines whether small organizations can foster societal change toward more sustainable modes of living. We contend that consumption is deeply intertwined with social relations and norms, thus making individual behavioral change toward sustainability a matter of facilitating change in individual behavior, as well as in social norms and relations between organizations and consumers. We argue that it is in this facilitation process that small firms can play a major role, by adopting upstream and downstream approaches to diffuse behavioral change. By synthesizing four key strands of literature - small businesses and corporate social responsibility, ethical consumption, community social marketing, and the diffusion of innovation - and using the exemplar case of Modbury, the iconic "plastic bag-free" town, we demonstrate how responsible small firms can influence communities, and the individuals therein, to encourage environmentally sustainable practice to diffuse and support change in society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-534
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • community
  • CSR
  • small business
  • social marketing
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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