Putting Sustainability into Practice


Putting Sustainability into Practice

Applications and Advances in Research on Sustainable Consumption

9781784710590 Edward Elgar Publishing
Edited by Emily Huddart Kennedy, Washington State University, Maurie J. Cohen, New Jersey Institute of Technology, US and Naomi Krogman, University of Alberta, Canada
Publication Date: 2015 ISBN: 978 1 78471 059 0 Extent: 264 pp
Putting Sustainability into Practice offers a robust and interdisciplinary understanding of contemporary consumption routines that challenges conventional approaches to social change premised on behavioral economics and social psychology. Empirical research is featured from eight different countries, using both qualitative and quantitative data to support its thesis.

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Putting Sustainability into Practice offers a robust and interdisciplinary understanding of contemporary consumption routines that challenges conventional approaches to social change premised on behavioral economics and social psychology. Empirical research is featured from eight different countries, using both qualitative and quantitative data to support its thesis.

Given the complex and systemic nature of contemporary ecological issues like climate change, a rapidly growing group of scholars is seeking new explanations of behavioral patterns and behavioral change. These new accounts clarify why patterns of consumption and waste continue to be unsustainable despite a wealth of information proving sustainability’s importance. In particular, social practice theories offer a way of understanding how material consumption is built into the everyday work of belonging and shaping one’s social life. Putting Sustainability into Practice contributes to the rich scholarship developed to date by applying social practice theories to case studies. These case studies are likely to be especially valuable to readers who are relatively new to the social practice perspective. The volume also includes research that advances social practice theories, moving the study of sustainable consumption into novel terrain such as sustainable finance, collective action, and social policy.

This book offers multiple empirical applications of social practice theories in sustainable consumption, advancing this research area in such a way that will attract academics to its findings. Those teaching classes in the environmental social sciences will find this introduction suitable for the classroom as well. It offers a rare account of the history of social practice theories and provides numerous case studies to which one can apply these approaches. Graduate students will also find this a useful guide to conducting empirical research on sustainable consumption and civic engagement from a social practices perspective.

Critical Acclaim
‘. . . the book is well-written and the theoretical discussions and empirical analyses are strong. The authors provide excellent models to assist the reader and the text is rich withsupporting materials such as summary tables, bar graphs, and flow charts​​. . . .The book stands as an appropriate supplemental text for advanced undergraduate and graduate sustainability seminars. It would be an appropriate addition to college, university, and personal libraries as it provides the basis of​ ​continuing research for those working in the areas of social practice theory and sustainability.''
– Michael Hirsch, International Social Science Review​

‘Sustainability is a wicked societal problem that calls into question much current, and orthodox, understandings of consumption. Social practice theories promise to overcome many of the fundamental shortcomings in conventional theoretical and policy approaches to this societal problem. This edited collection takes us one, significant, step closer to realizing this promise. Advancing social practice theories by looking beyond private domestic consumption, the contributions to this book explore topics that include: power relationships; environmental civic practices through studies of social movements and community action groups; emotions and discourses; and “social innovation” processes. In addition to offering coherent methodological developments, the book is one of a very few that seeks to bring theoretical insights into policy application, offering pathways for policy thinking illustrated through empirical research.’
– Dale Southerton, Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester, UK

‘For too long there has been a huge gap between thinking about sustainability, and actually doing something about it. This outstanding book questions the prevailing “Norms and Nudge” approach based on changing people’s minds, and shows how practice theory can be used to move towards truly effective social change. This is a big step forward in rethinking the connection between consumerism and the limits of sustainability.’
– Richard Wilk, Indiana University, Bloomington, US

‘Sustainable consumption has become one of the most dynamic fields in the social sciences. Putting Sustainability into Practice consistently demonstrates how the social practice approach has become the best alternative to behaviorist and rationalistic theories of social action and to nudge perspectives. It is definitely an insightful volume that should urgently be put into the hands of policy makers!’
– Sophie Dubuisson-Quellier, National Center for Scientific Research, Sciences Po, France
Contributors: J. Backhaus, S. Barr, T. Bateman, F. Forno, M. Gismondi, C. Grasseni, M. Jaeger-Erben, D. Kasper, R. Kemp, J. Marois, J. Rückert-John, M. Sahakian, C. Schelly, S. Signori, D. Straith, H. Wieser


1. Social Practice Theories and Research on Sustainable Consumption
Emily Huddart Kennedy, Maurie J. Cohen, and Naomi T. Krogman

2. Contextualizing Social Practices: Insights into Social Change
Debbie Kasper

3. Environmental Civic Practices: Synthesizing Individual and Collective Sustainable Consumption
Emily Huddart Kennedy and Tyler Bateman

4. Italy’s Solidarity Purchase Groups as ‘Citizenship Labs’
Francesca Forno, Cristina Grasseni, and Silvana Signori

5. Beyond Behavior Change: Social Practice Theory and the Search for Sustainable Mobility
Stewart Barr

6. Disentangling Practices, Carriers, and Production-consumption Systems: A Mixed-method Study of (Sustainable) Food Consumption
Julia Backhaus, Harald Wieser, and René Kemp

7. Getting Emotional: Historic and Current Changes in Food Consumption Practices Viewed Through the Lens of Cultural Theories
Marlyne Sahakian

8. Researching Transitions to Sustainable Consumption: A Practice Theory Approach to Studying Innovations in Consumption
Melanie Jaeger-Erben and Jana Rückart-John

9. How Policy Frameworks Shape Environmental Practice: Three Cases of Alternative Dwelling
Chelsea Schelly

10. ‘Unleashing Local Capital’: Scaling Cooperative Local Investing Practices
Mike Gismondi, Juanita Marois, and Danica Straith

11. Forging Further into Putting Sustainability into Practice
Naomi T. Krogman, Maurie J. Cohen, and Emily Huddart Kennedy


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