The International Handbook of Environmental Sociology, Second Edition
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The International Handbook of Environmental Sociology, Second Edition

Edited by Michael R. Redclift and Graham Woodgate

This thoroughly revised Handbook provides an assessment of the scope and content of environmental sociology, and sets out the intellectual and practical challenges posed by the urgent need for policy and action to address accelerating environmental change.
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Chapter 16: Sustainable Consumption: Developments, Considerations and New Directions

Emma D. Hinton and Michael K. Goodman


Emma D. Hinton and Michael K. Goodman Introduction In 1997, when the first edition of this handbook was published, academic engagement with the notion of sustainable consumption (SC) was limited. Since then, academics from across the disciplines of human geography, environmental psychology, industrial ecology and ecological economics have undertaken a wealth of new research and writing in this field. Moreover, there have been novel developments in international and national policies surrounding SC, in practitioner-based approaches to various forms of advocacy, and in global political economies that have the potential to greatly alter the SC playing field. In short, consumption as a growing form of ‘green governmentality’ (Rutherford, 2007) – in addition to how SC itself is and should be governed – has become a key interest throughout much of the relatively well-off ‘society of consumers’ (Bauman, 2007) in the industrial North, and for many (e.g. Local Environment, 2008), is deeply marred by the continuing inequalities inherent in its uptake. This chapter focuses on describing many of these developments, beginning with a brief contextualizing review of international and UK policy surrounding SC. Two sections follow from here: the first is on the important but contentious role that ‘information’ plays in SC networks and how this imposes the ‘responsibilization’ for sustainability onto the figure of the consumer in the spaces of the ‘everyday’. The second section explores the links between SC and ecological modernization and the associated productfocused pathways to SC that constitute much of the current policy focus. Next, we discuss several important...

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