The Ecological Economics of Consumption

The Ecological Economics of Consumption

Current Issues in Ecological Economics series

Edited by Lucia A. Reisch and Inge Røpke

Research on consumption from an environmental perspective has exploded since the late 1990s. This important new volume cuts across disciplines to present the latest research in the field.

Chapter 4: Work-related consumption drivers and consumption at work

Inge Røpke

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


Inge Røpke 4.1 INTRODUCTION The main message in this chapter1 is that the discussion on sustainable consumption should also incorporate the consumption that occurs in relation to work and, more generally, the relationship between consumption at work and consumption at home. Basically, production and consumption are intertwined. The traditional conceptualization of the distinction between production and consumption is questionable and is a barrier to the development of more sustainable life patterns. Here, I start by considering how domestic consumption can be encouraged by work-related factors – an outline inspired by an empirical study on families’ acquisition of new consumption goods. This issue leads to an increased awareness that consumption activities also occur in the workplace; examples are given illustrating that production and consumption are intertwined. In the next section I discuss in more detail the conceptual distinction between production and consumption. I conclude with reflections on how to proceed with consumption studies to provide the basis for promoting more sustainable life patterns. 4.2 WORK-RELATED CONSUMPTION DRIVERS During the period 1999–2001 Jeppe Læssøe and I did a research project on households’ first-time acquisition of new consumer goods (reported in Røpke 2001, 2003; Læssøe 2003). The purpose was first to reveal some of the consumption dynamics at the micro-level that compel most consumers in the affluent countries to contribute to the increasing consumption in the short term. The second purpose was to investigate how respondent families use such new technologies, and how these technologies are...

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