GEOGG026 Sustainable Consumption and Everyday Life
OPTION: GEOGG026 - SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION AND EVERYDAY LIFE
Term 2 (2012)
Russell Hitchings (and others)
1) To introduce students to some of the main social science theories used to explain why people live resource hungry lifestyles and how this could change.
2) To promote critical evaluation of these theories and to examine their strengths and weaknesses in comparative perspective.
3) To put some of these theories into practice by testing out the extent to which one of these theories helps us understand a particular aspect of contemporary consumption.
This course will introduce students to some of the main theories used by social scientists to account for the resource hungry nature of modern lifestyles in the west. It will particularly evaluate the contribution of anthropological approaches, sociological accounts, science and technology studies, and geography. The aim is to understand what these disciplines can tell us about why people use so much energy in the course of their everyday lives and the most effective means of encouraging them to adopt less resource hungry modes of routine living. It will also reflect on the ability of these different perspectives to influence policy on this topic. The course evaluation will involve a short project where individual students test out some of the concepts to which they have been introduced by using appropriate techniques to examine social practice and everyday consumption in one specified social context of their choice. Practically this may involve an interview, some documentary analysis, a short period of ethnographic work or another technique approved by the convenor.
100% coursework research project
This course will be taught through a mixture of standard lectures, facilitated group discussion, and student presentations. Moodle will be used throughout as a depository for teaching materials and lecture slides. There will also be workshops were students present their preliminary study findings and the wider group gives feedback on how they might usefully progress their project after this point.
1) Knowledge and a critical understand of the above consumption theories
2) Understanding of their strengths and weaknesses in comparative perspective
3) A sense of how these theories might inform sustainability policy
4) Experience of evaluating consumption theories through a small project
Some indicative reading:‘Polish and Belgian consumers’ perception of environmentally friendly behaviour.’ Journal of Consumer Studies and Home Economics. 24.1. 9-21.
Burgess, J., Bedford, T., Hobson, K., Davies, D., and Harrison, C.M. 2004. ‘(Un)Sustainable Consumption.’ In Berkhout, F., Leach, M. and Scoones, I. (eds.) Global Environmental Change and Society Edward Elgar.
Dobson, A. 2000. Green political thought. London: Routledge.
Halkier, B. 1999. ‘Consequences of the politicisation of consumption: the example of environmentally friendly consumption practices.’ Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning. 1: 25-41.
Hobson, K. ‘Thinking habits into action: the role of knowledge and processes in questioning household consumption practices.’ Local Environment. 8.1. 95-112.
Irvine, S. 1989. ‘Consuming Fashions? The Limits of Green Consumerism.’ The Ecologist, 19/3: 88-93.
Jackson, T. 2006. The Earthscan Reader in Sustainable Consumption London: Earthscan.
Jackson, T. and Marks, N. 1999. ‘Consumption, sustainable welfare and human needs - with reference to UK expenditure patterns between 1954 and 1994.’ Ecological Economics 28: 421-441.
Ropke, I. 1999. ‘The dynamics of willingness to consume’ Ecological Economics 28: 399-420.
Roozen, I., and De Pelsmacker, P. 2000.
‘Polish and Belgian consumers’ perception of environmentally friendly behaviour.’ Journal of Consumer Studies and Home Economics. 24.1. 9-21.