The year 2001 saw the publication of a book entitled The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory (Schatzki et al. 2001). More a declaration of intent than a monument to a newly established orthodoxy, it marks a point of theoretical confluence which has had significant impact on the study of sustainable consumption. Theories of practice – in the plural, for there is no single accepted version of such a theory – are applicable in principle to any domain of activity, and have been adopted for use within many social scientific disciplines, but they seem to have produced particularly promising applications in the understanding of sustainable consumption. Theories of practice make several moves in the explanation of personal conduct and social organization which are unorthodox. For example when giving an account of human activity the roles of conscious intention, of individual autonomy and of decision making are played down, and explanation focuses on the organization of practices rather than on individuals.
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