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BNELIT - Datenbank zu Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung: wissenschaftliche Literatur und Materialien
Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung: wiss. Literatur und Materialien (BNELIT)
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Sustainable Consumption.
Perspectives from Social and Cultural Theory.
At a time when there is a widespread recognition that those living in developed nations need to consume in ways that are more sustainable, the task of motivating sustainable consumption is often treated in a largely instrumental manner relying heavily on communication campaigns aimed at individual ′behaviour change′. Though this approach draws on insights from social psychology, consumer behaviour theory and marketing, it often neglects understandings that arise from social and cultural theories of consumption. Perversely, these more sociological theories of consumption – with a few notable exceptions – have tended to shy away from an explicit concern with ′sustainability′, eschewing in particular its normative agenda. Nonetheless, this paper argues, social and cultural theories have a wealth of insight to offer. In particular we suggest that sociological theory can add an invaluable level of depth and sophistication to understandings of consumer behaviour and the complexities underlying the challenges of ′lifestyle change′. This paper considers – through reference to the social and cultural theorists who have addressed the question of sustainable consumption - the conceptual, normative and practical implications of bringing socio-cultural approaches to consumption together with the agendas of environmental sustainability. Crucially, we argue that the real challenge of sustainable consumption is confronting the tension inherent in the idea of sustainable consumerism and suggest some strategies for resolving this tension.
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