The Distributive Impacts of Nudnik-based Activism
In Theory of the Nudnik: The Future of Consumer Activism and What We Can Do to Stop It, Professors Yonathan Arbel and Roy Shapira propose that nudnik customers should be lauded for acting as engines of market discipline. According to Arbel and Shapira, nudnik consumers typically generate significant social benefits. Through their complaints, nudniks often draw attention to seller misconduct. By imposing reputational costs on sellers, nudniks may complement, and sometimes even replace, regulatory sanctions. As presented by the authors, nudnik consumers can prompt sellers to enhance their quality of service for all consumers, consequently increasing consumer welfare.
This Response seeks to complicate the theory by addressing the missing distributional dimension. Namely, it suggests that nudnik- based activism (and sellers’ responses to it) may not affect all consumers alike.