Table of Contents

Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption

Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption

Edited by Lucia A. Reisch and John Thøgersen

This Handbook compiles the state of the art of current research on sustainable consumption from the world’s leading experts in the field. The implementation of sustainable consumption presents one of the greatest challenges and opportunities we are faced with today. On the one hand, consumption is a wanted and necessary phenomenon important for society and the economy. On the other, our means of consumption contradicts many important ecological and social long-term goals. Set against this background, the Handbook aims to offer an interdisciplinary overview of recent research on sustainable consumption, to draw attention to this subject and to encourage discussion and debate. In 27 chapters, leading authorities in the field provide their expertise in a concise and accessible manner.

Chapter 17: Family socialization and sustainable consumption

Ellen Matthies and Hannah Wallis

Subjects: economics and finance, behavioural and experimental economics, economic psychology, environment, ecological economics, environmental sociology


Consumption behaviour at an individual household level has been identified as an important domain in which to determine how sustainable consumption can be achieved (EEA 2012; Rijnhout and Lorek 2012). But how do we develop specific behavioural routines that will result in sustainable consumption? Families are units in which close social interactions take place and especially in which parents function as the primary socialization agents for their children. These day-to-day conditions of family life may lead to some degree of synchronization in values, concerns and behaviours between generations (e.g. John 1999; Grusec and Davidov 2008; Grønhøj and Thøgersen 2009). Consequently knowledge about the socialization of sustainable consumption acts within the family is essential for developing effective policies. In the context of climate change and ambitious national aims to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, direct and indirect energy consumption is particularly relevant (EEA 2012). In this context, housing, transportation and food are recognized as the main priorities for reducing household CO2 emissions (EEA 2012). The suggested domains in which actions are likely to have the greatest impact are the type and use of heating system and of (electrical) energy-consuming devices (Dietz et al. 2009); the choice of transportation (Dietz et al. 2009); food consumption, the consumption of meat in particular (Tukker et al. 2011), and the general tendency toward a higher level of food consumption per person (Edwards and Roberts 2009). For an overview of relevant consumption acts, also see Chapter 4 in this book.

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