Putting Sustainability into Practice

Putting Sustainability into Practice

Applications and Advances in Research on Sustainable Consumption

Edited by Emily H. Kennedy, Maurie J. Cohen and Naomi Krogman

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.

Chapter 1: Social practice theories and research on sustainable consumption

Emily Huddart Kennedy, Maurie J. Cohen and Naomi T. Krogman

Subjects: environment, ecological economics, environmental sociology, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


Social practice theories are the subject of much discussion among those who study sustainability. Using social practice theories to analyze how routinized activity can contribute to unsustainability problems has resulted in a great deal of stimulating scholarship. In this introductory chapter, we begin by venturing back to some of the early work on social practices and offer an account of key theoretical contributions to the contemporary study of sustainable consumption. Our review indicates that concepts from Anthony Giddens’ theory of practice have had considerably more impact on the study of sustainable consumption than the practice-based concepts that Pierre Bourdieu developed. We suggest that this may have led to overlooking the power relations that keep certain materially consumptive social practices firmly rooted in everyday routines. The chapters in this volume advance current theorizing at the nexus of social practices and sustainable consumption. The chapters in Part II explore how the study of sustainable consumption must move beyond the household and into the public sphere. The third Part, ‘Collective Dimensions of Household Practices’, illustrates how the routines in a household such as driving and eating are shaped by societal variables and thus are not a reflection of individual agency. Part IV, ‘Sustainable Consumption and Social Innovation’, examines shifts in systems of provision that shape daily routines that have environmental consequences.