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Competing discourses of sustainable consumption: does the 'rationalisation of lifestyles' make sense?

Hobson, Kersty ORCID: 2002. Competing discourses of sustainable consumption: does the 'rationalisation of lifestyles' make sense? Environmental Politics 11 (2) , pp. 95-120. 10.1080/714000601

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Sustainable consumption is a key concept in the sustainable development paradigm, which calls for individuals in high-incomes countries to consider, and take action on, the environmental impacts of their household consumption practices. Within recent international policy framings, sustainable consumption is part of an efficiency-focussed rationalisation discourse, representing distinct theories of the environment, the state and the individual. This paper considers how this discourse resonates and impacts upon the very citizens it has been constructed to affect. 'Alternate' discourses of sustainable consumption and critical social science research suggests that politically dominant approaches mean little to members of the public. This suggestion is tested here through interviews with participants of a sustainable lifestyle programme in the UK called Action at Home. This analysis argues that social justice, not sustainable lifestyles, has the most resonance with interviewees. As a result, not only do calls for rationalisation carry little cultural meaning, they also actively alienate individuals from the project of sustainable consumption. This is because the idea of rationalising lifestyles appears actively to ignore, and is unable to address, individual's pressing social concerns. Hence, the rationalisation of lifestyles makes little (common) sense.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0964-4016
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 11:02

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