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Towards sustainable consumption : Understanding the adoption and practice of environmental actions in households

Scott, Anna Kathrine (2009) Towards sustainable consumption : Understanding the adoption and practice of environmental actions in households. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Securing public participation in environmental actions (EAs) such as recycling as a means of making progress towards sustainable consumption is a central issue in UK environmental policy. Participation in EAs has typically been studied from the individual perspective, thereby ignoring the relevance of the social context of the household. This thesis advances understanding of the adoption and practice of EAs from the household perspective. A qualitative -research approach is taken, utilising focus groups with 29 households within a constructivist grounded theory methodology. In terms of theoretical contributions, the unlinked literatures on participation in EAs and household decision making are integrated in light of the research findings resulting in a conceptual framework of the adoption and practice of EAs in households which is grounded in the data. This framework considers EAs in isolation and patterns across EA repertoires and is applicable to the variety of commonly-promoted EAs and household types and different levels of engagement in EAs. Elements of the framework include the multiple units which drive EA adoption and are responsible for EA practice; the situational, household and individual characteristics which shape these units; the multiple routes to EA practice and their tentative differentiation in terms of desirability from a policy perspective; factors facilitating the maintenance of repetitive EAs; types and means of socialisation influence from a leader to other individuals; from where and how knowledge for action is acquired and transmitted through the household; and communication within the household about EAs. Particular empirical contributions include the recognition of the decoupling of attitudes towards an EA and behaviour as a result of factors pertaining to the social context of the household; a new understanding of motivation to engage in EAs relating to how a leader's motivation is established in the first instance and then transferred to other household members; and the recognition that specialised roles relating to EA adoption and practice may be taken up gradually. In terms of methodological contributions, the literatures on focus groups and qualitative family research are integrated to coin the term 'household focus group'. To produce the necessary detail, an original interview activity involving the diagrammatic representation of EA adoption and practice is developed, which is extended into an original means of data analysis involving detailed visual representations of the processes within the household.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Management School (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.505571
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2016 14:38
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2016 14:38
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10334

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