‘Helping People Make Better Choices’: exploring the behaviour change agenda for environmental sustainability
This paper examines the emergence of market-orientated approaches to public participation in environmental issues through an exploration of recent empirical research into ‘sustainable lifestyles’ as a practical tool for encouraging pro-environmental behaviour. Using the notion of ‘sustainable lifestyles’, current social marketing policies seek to encourage behaviour change amongst citizens by identifying population segments with similar commitments to environmental practices as the basis for behaviour change initiatives. However, the use of static ‘lifestyle groups’ implies that that citizens replicate sustainable practices across different consumption contexts and this paper explores this line of argument through the use of data collected as part of a recent UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) funded research project on sustainable lifestyles and climate change. Through a series of focus group discussions, participants explored notions of sustainable practices using the home and leisure contexts as framing devices to explore issues of environmental responsibility and climate change. The emphasis placed on practices and context reveal that the comfortable notions of environmental responsibility and sustainable consumption in the home are often in conflict with the discourses of consumption reduction associated with climate change in leisure and tourism contexts. In many cases, these ‘paradoxes’ are explicitly referred to, reflected-upon and discussed by participants who demonstrate that notions of sustainable practice are mediated by practice and spaces of consumption. Accordingly, the paper argues that in conceptualising market-based approaches to behaviour change around the notion of ‘sustainable lifestyles’, researchers and policy makers need to address the role of context and recognise the importance of consumption spaces and the conflicts that may arise between these.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier. NOTICE: This is the author’s version of a work accepted for publication by Elsevier. Changes resulting from the publishing process, including peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting and other quality control mechanisms, may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Applied Geography, 2011, Vol. 31 (2), pp. 712 – 720 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2010.12.003
Applied Geography, 2011, Vol. 31 (2), pp. 712 - 720