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 8: Sustainability in everyday life - a matter of time?

Mikko Jalas

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


8. Sustainability in everyday life – a matter of time?* Mikko Jalas 8.1 INTRODUCTION Sustainability is a fundamental and far-reaching concept of redirecting social change. It predisposes new institutional arrangements as well as changes in the values of individuals and in the technological trajectories; it materializes in the changing patterns of everyday conducts as well as in the structural changes in economic activities and in the adoption of new, more efficient technology. While the optimism about the scope and the reach of radical technological innovations is widespread and strong, many authors emphasize that relevant changes must involve consumers in a more fundamental manner. In addition to technological innovations such as fuel-efficient cars, the patterns of everyday life need to change. Such changes are implied in various degrees in notions such as sustainable consumption, sustainable lifestyles, sufficiency revolution and alternative models of wealth (for example, Sachs 1999; Reisch 2001). In more concrete terms the thoughts are reflected in the calls for a slower pace of life, worksharing and shorter working hours (Schor 1991; Sanne 2000) and in more specific suggestions such as reducing long-distance tourism. Altogether, the discussion of sustainable consumption seems to presuppose different kinds of changes in the activities or behaviour of individuals and in their patterns of time use. Time use researchers claim that analyses of the formal economy are inadequate for studying the real patterns of life in a society. According to them, utility, well-being, social stratification as well as social exclusion...

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