Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption
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Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption

Edited by Lucia A. Reisch and John Thøgersen

This Handbook compiles the state of the art of current research on sustainable consumption from the world’s leading experts in the field. The implementation of sustainable consumption presents one of the greatest challenges and opportunities we are faced with today. On the one hand, consumption is a wanted and necessary phenomenon important for society and the economy. On the other, our means of consumption contradicts many important ecological and social long-term goals. Set against this background, the Handbook aims to offer an interdisciplinary overview of recent research on sustainable consumption, to draw attention to this subject and to encourage discussion and debate. In 27 chapters, leading authorities in the field provide their expertise in a concise and accessible manner.
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Chapter 5: Theories of practice and sustainable consumption

Daniel Welch and Alan Warde

Extract

The year 2001 saw the publication of a book entitled The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory (Schatzki et al. 2001). More a declaration of intent than a monument to a newly established orthodoxy, it marks a point of theoretical confluence which has had significant impact on the study of sustainable consumption. Theories of practice – in the plural, for there is no single accepted version of such a theory – are applicable in principle to any domain of activity, and have been adopted for use within many social scientific disciplines, but they seem to have produced particularly promising applications in the understanding of sustainable consumption. Theories of practice make several moves in the explanation of personal conduct and social organization which are unorthodox. For example when giving an account of human activity the roles of conscious intention, of individual autonomy and of decision making are played down, and explanation focuses on the organization of practices rather than on individuals.

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