The rising prominence of consumer sovereignty, wherein businesses prioritize customers as kings, presents complex ethical dilemmas. This paper delves into the ethical implications of consumer sovereignty by examining the lack of recognition to which service workers are subjected in their interactions with customers. Applying the sensitizing lens of recognition theory, we investigate how the relational domination inherent in the service industry ultimately results in four main recognition gaps: visibility, status recognition, affective recognition, and capacity recognition gaps. These gaps considerably hinder an employee’s ability to experience workplace dignity. Our findings enrich the business ethics literature by providing a more holistic analysis of the ethical challenges raised by consumer sovereignty. We introduce recognition theory as a framework to address these concerns and offer recommendations for managers to better support their service employees in overcoming the absence of customer recognition.
BHATNAGAR, K., CAYLA, J., DION, D. et FUSCHILLO, G. (2023). Consumer Sovereignty and the Ethics of Recognition. Journal of Business Ethics, In press.