Chapter 12, ‘From worktime reduction to a post-work future: Implications for sustainable consumption governance’ by Maurie J. Cohen addresses post-ownership sustainable consumption governance and the onset of post-consumerism. The chapter starts with an excursion into history, looking at the developments in consumption and expansion of wage-based employment that created a middle-class lifestyle, which is now waning for many reasons. The livelihoods of less affluent households have become precarious because of irregular participation in waged employment and rising economic insecurity. Households are struggling to reproduce familiar consumerist routines and are instigating social experiments in order to trial alternative provisioning arrangements. The demise of mass consumer lifestyles and the emergence of post-consumerism have significant and challenging implications for sustainable consumption governance. The equity dimensions of sustainable consumption take on equal importance with the biophysical impacts of resource use. This process of change also highlights the need for policies to nurture and support the cultivation of small-scale experiments and to aid social learning that helps diversity provisioning opportunities. It facilitates novel business models, promotes relationships based on solidarity through cooperativism, and enables community-based modes of self-help and the rediscovery of communal forms of prosumption. Also required is the political resolve to restrain patterns of outsized acquisition, while creating a system of public finance capable of investing in new institutional infrastructures.
Halina Szejnwald Brown, Philip J. Vergragt and Maurie J. Cohen
New Economics, Socio-technical Transitions and Social Practices
Edited by Maurie J. Cohen, Halina Szejnwald Brown and Philip J. Vergragt
Edited by Emily H. Kennedy, Maurie J. Cohen and Naomi Krogman
Emily Huddart Kennedy, Maurie J. Cohen and Naomi T. Krogman
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.