This article compares consumer protection policy and consumer activism in Japan, China, and Taiwan to understand state–consumer relationships in East Asia. It employs Maclachlan’s case study of Japan to develop an explanatory model of how political change and state–business relationships influence interaction between state and consumers, and how state–consumer relationships institute consumer protection. The article then compares the three countries, all of which have experienced rapid growth and consumerism, by utilizing their different political developments in the exploration of the interaction between state policy and consumer activism. This comparison highlights the different dynamics that institute consumer protection in the political, economic, and social spheres. The argument is made that transformations in the state–consumer relationship are required to allow civil society to take part in the instituting of consumer markets as East Asian capitalism turns to domestic consumption for growth.
Journal of Consumer Culture, First Published August 3, 2017