The Ecological Opportunity
Edited by Blandine Laperche, Nadine Levratto and Dimitri Uzunidis
Chapter 3: Sustainable Consumption in an Evolutionary Framework: How to Foster Behavioural Change?
3. Sustainable consumption in an evolutionary framework: how to foster behavioural change Nathalie Lazaric and Vanessa Oltra INTRODUCTION Changes in consumption patterns and their effect on the environment are at the top of the research agendas in many countries (Arrow et al., 2004; Witt, 2001; Wagner, 2006). Some authors argue that to achieve sustainability will require consumers reducing their levels of consumption and making changes to the kinds of goods they consume (see Fournier, 2008; Gsottbauer and van den Bergh, 2009; Hueting, 2010; Latouche, 2010; Schneider, Kallis and Martinez-Alier, 2010; Stiglitz, 2009). Although there is some consensus on the idea that modifications are required to our patterns of consumption, it is not clear whether behavioural changes at the micro level will generate transformations at the macro level. The evolution of tastes, preferences and consumption needs to be analysed in order to identify current consumption and future trends (Unruh, 2000; Dolfsma, 2002; Earl and Potts, 2004). In this context, behavioural anomalies are a growing concern (Frey and Eichenberger, 1994; Frey, 1999; Shogren, 2002; van den Bergh, 2008), and are not so much a question of rationality but are concerned rather with habits, routines and existing environmental innovations (Maréchal and Lazaric, 2009; Maréchal, 2010; Nelson and Consoli, 2010; Oltra, 2009). Evolutionary economics research on bounded rationality and learning mechanisms provides a framework for understanding consumer behaviour and demand dynamics in social interactions among groups of individuals and imitations between groups of individuals (Metcalfe, 2001; Witt, 2001; Reinstaller and Sanditov, 2005;...
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