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'Small stories of closing loops': social circularity and the everyday circular economy

Hobson, Kersty ORCID: 2019. 'Small stories of closing loops': social circularity and the everyday circular economy. Climatic Change 163 , pp. 99-116. 10.1007/s10584-019-02480-z

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There is now no doubt that current global production-consumption-disposal systems are threatening the fundamental conditions of existence on this planet. In response, the pressing need for total system transformation has gained civic and political traction, feeding into long-standing debates and interventions that are aimed at recalibrating prevailing economic and social practices. One such debate and intervention is that of the circular economy (CE). Here, advocates argue that current linear resource and energy use systems must be reconfigured into loops of re-use, repair, refurbishment, and recycling, displacing primary production and lessening greenhouse gas emissions in the process. This agenda has potentially profound implications for aspects of daily social practices. Yet, to date, little attention has been paid (politically and in research) to how the CE does and will interact with everyday habits, norms, and meanings. In response, this paper explores some of the conceptual assumptions underlying the CE ‘consumer’. It argues that mainstream CE debates are underscored by an impoverished view of our relationships with complex material cultures, which in turn is creating barriers to transformation. Drawing on empirical research into responses to the CE in the UK and the Netherlands, this paper contrasts the challenges of inciting consumers to take up new, resource-efficient business models in contexts of hyper-consumerism, with a more hopeful ‘small story’ of overt, small-scale circular spaces, that nevertheless embed the CE and its underlying impetuses more clearly into the everyday.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0165-0009
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 June 2019
Date of Acceptance: 18 June 2019
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2022 12:34

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