Marlyne Sahakian

Marlyne Sahakian
University of Geneva | UNIGE · Department of Sociology

PhD

About

91
Publications
41,519
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
1,267
Citations
Introduction
Marlyne Sahakian is Assoc Professor of Sociology at the University of Geneva, specialized in consumption studies. Her research interest is in understanding natural resource consumption patterns and practices, in relation to environmental promotion and social equity, and identifying opportunities for transitions towards more sustainable societies. She is currently coordinating several national and international research projects on household energy and food consumption, working with interdiscipl
Additional affiliations
January 2015 - present
University of Geneva
Position
  • Co-coordinator
Description
  • "Understanding household energy consumption: social practices, norms and values, and learning how to change". Funded by the NRP71, Swiss National Science Foundation.
October 2013 - August 2015
University of Lausanne
Position
  • Co-coordinator and lead researcher
Description
  • (Un)Sustainable Food Consumption Dynamics in South/Southeast Asia. Awarded by the Swiss Network for International Studies.

Publications

Publications (91)
Article
The increasing sense of urgency to transition to sustainable modes of consumption and production requires an understanding of social problem framings and processes of change. We examine how two conceptual frameworks, the Multi-level Perspective (MLP), a socio-technical transition theory, and Social Practice Approaches (SPA), contribute to understan...
Article
Full-text available
Sustainable agrifood systems are critical to averting climate-driven social and ecological disasters, overcoming the growth paradigm and redefining the interactions of humanity and nature in the twenty-first century. This Perspective describes an agenda and examples for comprehensive agrifood system redesign according to principles of sufficiency,...
Article
Growing attention is being paid to imaginaries of energy futures that originate from actors at subnational levels who engage directly with energy transitions, and how these imaginaries compare with national imaginaries. We focus on collectives (e.g., cooperatives, energy utilities or public administrations) that engage with solar PV in Switzerland,...
Article
Full-text available
Decades of techno-economic energy policymaking and research have meant evidence from the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH)—including critical reflections on what changing a society’s relation to energy (efficiency) even means—have been underutilised. In particular, (i) the SSH have too often been sidelined and/or narrowly pigeonholed by policyma...
Article
Full-text available
While learning competencies in education for sustainable development are increasingly recognized as important, few empirical studies consider competencies delivered at a program level. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how a program evaluation can be approached through a participatory approach, and what this means for learning competencie...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we perform a literature review on the current state of knowledge about homeowners in the context of the adoption of renewable heating systems. Despite a considerable number of studies about homeowners, homeowner–installer interactions, and ways to improve the effectiveness of renewable heating programs, based on homeowner knowledge,...
Article
Full-text available
The planetary boundaries concept has profoundly changed the vocabulary and representation of global environmental issues. We bring a critical social science perspective to this framework through the notion of societal boundaries and aim to provide a more nuanced understanding of the social nature of thresholds. We start by highlighting the strength...
Article
Full-text available
Geneva prides itself on being an international city, home to the United Nations and international organizations. The airport plays an important role in this image, tied to a quest for hypermobility in an increasingly globalized society. Yet, mobility accounts for close to one quarter of the territory’s carbon emissions, with flights responsible for...
Article
Living in an ecovillage requires that people reinvent everyday practices. It involves new forms of production, consumption, social organization, and subjective constitution, aiming toward the nor-mative goal of achieving greater "sustainability." Based on ethno-graphic research in Western Switzerland, this paper focuses on uncovering the nexus of p...
Article
Living in an ecovillage requires that people reinvent everyday practices. It involves new forms of production, consumption, social organization, and subjective constitution, aiming toward the nor-mative goal of achieving greater "sustainability." Based on ethno-graphic research in Western Switzerland, this paper focuses on uncovering the nexus of p...
Article
Full-text available
Transitioning to cleaner modes of electricity production requires a major uptake of renewable technologies, including solar photovoltaic (PV). However, the uptake has been spatially uneven within countries and requires more exploration. We analyse the spatial pattern of solar PV growth in Switzerland (76′587 PV projects) by quantifying the features...
Article
Full-text available
Leisure practices have implications for belonging. In Metro Manila, a rapidly urbanizing metropolis, leisure is becoming increasingly associated with the most ubiquitous hyper-conditioned environments: privately owned shopping malls. By decontextualizing the built environment from its natural and cultural settings, these malls present a challenge t...
Chapter
Full-text available
Consumption Corridors: Living a Good Life within Sustainable Limits explores how to enhance peoples’ chances to live a good life in a world of ecological and social limits. Rejecting familiar recitations of problems of ecological decline and planetary boundaries, this compact book instead offers a spirited explication of what everyone desires: a g...
Article
Full-text available
ENERGISE is the first large-scale European effort to reduce household energy use through a change initiative that adopted a ‘living lab’ approach informed by social practice theory. Two challenges were introduced to 306 households in eight countries: to lower indoor temperatures and to reduce laundry cycles. This contribution demonstrates the usefu...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we examine a change initiative designed to involve households in testing ways to transform two everyday practices ‒ heating and doing laundry. The research design included an examination of the challenges of changing practices either in a setting that fosters collective engagement or with individual households. Two different types...
Article
Full-text available
As a salutogenic concept, “consumption corridors” aims to support what is necessary for sustainable wellbeing to be achieved in relation to the Earth system, with a deep consideration for justice and equity. Living in consumption corridors is a representation of everyday life whereby people live within limits, so that all people–now and in the futu...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we explore the possibilities for a transformation toward more sustainable energy usage by engaging with mundane activities, such as doing the laundry. Across European households, laundry practices rely on social norms and material arrangements, which makes these practices rather “sticky” and resistant to change. Through the lens of...
Article
Full-text available
Green public spaces support human health and harbor biodiversity, but does visiting the park improve human wellbeing? We draw on interviews with 40 respondents in 3 Chennai parks to examine how green public spaces serve as inclusive areas for synergistic need satisfaction. Through qualitative interviews, we studied wellbeing by uncovering social pr...
Book
Full-text available
Using six priority themes, the "White Paper on Sustainability Research" outlines Switzerland's most urgent research needs in order to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The priority themes were developed by 30 experts from science and practice on the basis of a broad-based dialogue with over 100 stakeholders from science, business, administ...
Article
Full-text available
Aunque con origen y preocupación inicial diferentes, la Economía Social y Solidaria (ESS) y la Economía Circular (EC) pueden complementarse para transformar el modelo de desarrollo actual. La EC teóricamente ayudaría a contemplar objetivos biofísicos de sostenibilidad ecológica y de reducción y cierre de ciclos de materiales; la ESS priorizaría las...
Article
Full-text available
The first Swiss national dietary survey (MenuCH) was used to screen disease burdens and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of Swiss diets (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, slimming), with a focus on gender and education level. The Health Nutritional Index (HENI), a novel disease burden-based nutritional index built on the Global Burden of Disease studie...
Article
This article demonstrates how a cultural reading of consumption that focuses on the meaning and materiality of domestic indoor microclimates can contribute to conceptual developments in the field of practice theory that refocus attention on cultural patterns, including prevailing norms and prescriptions regarding indoor temperature and thermal comf...
Article
Households have a role to play in the so-called ‘energy turn’ in Switzerland, a policy framework that calls for more efficient energy usage. Against this backdrop, this article critically analyses the mechanisms and running of a programme aimed at improving energy usage among low-income households in western Switzerland, bringing together both envi...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic is having devastating effects on vulnerable communities around the world but we are also seeing glimpses of hope, where societies are working to “build back better” by ensuring basic needs and protecting our natural environment. In this briefing paper, we outline a set of ten principles for “building back better” toward a well...
Article
In the last decade, a new strand of energy and climate research emerged that links quantitative models and socio-technical transitions theories or frameworks. Linking the two enables capturing the co-evolution of society, technology, the economy and the environment. We systematically review this literature (N = 44) and describe the papers' trends,...
Article
Full-text available
The significance of green public spaces is well documented in relation to social inclusiveness, human health, and biodiversity, yet how green public spaces achieve what Gough (2017) has termed ‘sustainable wellbeing’ is less understood. This contribution presents preliminary results from a study of green public spaces in four mega-cities of South a...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter engages with the existing literature on urban agriculture and with concrete case studies to examine current challenges and ways forward for the sustainability assessment of urban agriculture. The chapter identifies current conceptualizations of urban agriculture, and sustainability assessment methods, and discusses them in the light of...
Article
Meat consumption has become a contentious issue among the Swiss population. The emotional character of the debates surrounding the necessity for a change of habits, namely a reduction in consumption and a shift in the kind of meat we eat, reveals its particular place in our societies: as a symbolic food with roots in our affective economies, as inv...
Chapter
Full-text available
Providing nutritious, safe and affordable food for all in a sustainable manner is one of the greatest challenges the world faces today, particularly in the context of Asia – where 515 million people are estimated to be undernourished, with the highest rates of food insecurity in Central and Southern Asia (FAO, IFAD, UNICEF et al., 2018). Yet an est...
Article
Full-text available
Sustainability, far from being an objectively defined concept, is underpinned by assumptions, discursive elements, values and paradigms, many of which are implicit and even contradictory. These need to be identified and debated so that we can develop a shared vision of a sustainable future and a strategy for achieving it. The scientific community c...
Article
With electricity-using appliances as the starting point, we seek to uncover the normative authority in the performance of practices among households in Western Switzerland. Through complementary methods, we explore normativity in practices that involve communicating and entertaining, cleaning and tidying up, and storing food and preparing meals. Co...
Conference Paper
This contribution proposes to address a central question in social science approaches to household energy studies: "how do conventions around energy services evolve, how do they alter over time, and how can they be changed once they are cement-ed?" (Sovacool 2014: 19). Drawing from a social practice theoretical framework, we posit that energy usage...
Article
This paper studies how ordinary people in Switzerland represent and engage with environmental issues in daily practices. Bringing together conceptual developments in cultural sociology and social practice theory, the paper argues that cultural repertoires strongly shape how representations and forms of engagement play out. It identifies two main re...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The concept of sufficiency – reducing energy uses beyond technical efficiency – is far-reaching and requires a reflection on human needs, energy services, urban structures, social norms, and the role of policies to support the shift towards lower-energy societies. In recent years, a growing body of literature has been published on energy sufficienc...
Chapter
Full-text available
In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Swiss 2050 Energy Strategy aims to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy (RE) sources, and nuclear power phase-out. Against that backdrop, this chapter provides a brief overview of the socio-material dynamics of household energy use in Switzerland, highlighting the role of regional energy pro...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter considers the similarities and differences between ten European countries in relation to meso-level considerations when it comes to household energy usage. We uncover the governing frameworks and policies related to energy usage, then examine socio-demographic characteristics including housing tenure and location. Next, we consider the...
Article
Based on a study of fifty initiatives aimed at reducing energy usage among Swiss households, we uncover what representations of change and forms of engagement are put forward by these initiatives, and the related policy implications. Two ideal-types emerge from our analysis: first, the dominant worldview of change as based on governing behaviour to...
Chapter
This chapter explores the underpinning dimensions of energy-using practices among an affluent social group in Geneva, or households who self-identify as being part of the expatriate population. We demonstrate how people can be locked into certain consumption practices by their physical possessions, a form of material lock-in, but also by social sta...
Article
Full-text available
This paper takes as a starting point "food consumption prescriptions", or guidelines on what and how one should eat when it comes to "healthy and sustainable diets". Through qualitative research in Switzerland, involving discourse analysis, observations, in-depth interviews, and focus groups, we set out to uncover the more dominant prescriptions pu...
Article
Social norms have an important role to play in relation to how practices play out, involving shared understandings and expectations around what should or ought to be. Few studies consider emotions from a social practice perspective in relation to energy studies, however. From a socio-anthropological perspective, we set out to uncover how studying e...
Article
Full-text available
Food consumption patterns and practices are undergoing changes in the mega-cities of South and Southeast Asia. Based on a qualitative, comparative case study, this article examines food consumption practices among middle-class households in Bangalore and Metro Manila. We demonstrate how taste preferences, shaped by and shaping food consumption prac...
Article
Sustainable consumption (SC) is a growing area of research, practice and policy-making that has been gaining momentum in teaching programs among higher education institutions. Understanding how, in what way, and what we consume, in relation to environmental integrity and intra/inter-generational equity, is a complex question, all the more so when t...
Article
Full-text available
In light of the environmental consequences of linear production and consumption processes, the circular economy (CE) is gaining momentum as a concept and practice, promoting closed material cycles by focusing on multiple strategies from material recycling to product reuse, as well as rethinking production and consumption chains toward increased res...
Article
Through the lens of social practice theories, we consider the emergence of organic food in the Philippines and relate this to sustainable food production and consumption. In particular, we analyse the various practices of groups engaged in “organic” food production and consumption in the capital region, Metro Manila—in a country that has a vibrant...
Book
Food consumption patterns and practices are rapidly changing in Asia and the Pacific, and nowhere are these changes more striking than in urban areas. This book brings together scholars from anthropology, sociology, environmental studies, tourism, architecture and development studies to provide a comprehensive examination of food consumption trends...
Presentation
Full-text available
A flyer to summarize workshop findings at the pre-Degrowth SCORAI workshop.
Article
Public and private food consumption is responsible for significant environmental impacts, resulting in numerous studies that highlight the problem and reveal its magnitude at global and national scales. Drawing on a high level of data aggregation and focussing on individual choices and attitudes, current accounts stop short of grappling with the un...
Article
Full-text available
Food consumption is a local activity related to environmental impacts at different scales. Yet, the link between eating food as a social and cultural practice and the global implications of food consumption has not been sufficiently explored. We adopt a multidisciplinary approach to relate social practices with the biophysical flows of food product...
Chapter
The goal of this contribution is to illustrate the linkages between industrial ecology (IE) and the social and solidarity economy (SSE), an economic paradigm that is robust in terms of conceptual and historical developments, and active around the world as a social movement. The SSE includes a range of activities, such as fair trade, community curre...
Chapter
This chapter assesses crowdfunding as part of a growing interest in the sharing economy. Conceptual handles are proposed for apprehending what is meant by ‘sharing' and how this relates to crowdfunding. The notion of ‘the common' is revived, which involves placing societal interests ahead of personal gain. We distinguish self-interest sharing from...
Article
Full-text available
This article provides a snapshot of social and solidarity economy (SSE) institutions and activities in two differing regions of the world in order to reflect on how the SSE is being conceptualized and practised in varying contexts and cultures. The SSE is a growing social movement that includes a range of activities that share common values, includ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose – This paper aims to explore how Living Labs might be evaluated, building on the current efforts of the European Network of Living Lab (ENoLL) to encourage new members, and complementing their existing criteria with elements from business model development strategies – specifically the Business Model Canvas (BMC) (Osterwalder and Pigneur, 2...
Chapter
Full-text available
This contribution aims towards understanding whether a cultural reading of consumption, focused on symbolic meaning and related emotions (Spaargaren 2013; Collins 2004), can complement social practice approaches. Two shifts in household food consumption practices are considered in the European context: the diffusion of household appliances in post...
Conference Paper
This paper will present preliminary research results from an ongoing research project that considers the dynamics of food consumption among the middle classes in Bangalore and Metro Manila, including consumption patterns, practices and policies. Asia is often seen as the center of gravity for the “new consumer” phenomenon, where a rise in affluence...
Conference Paper
Southeast Asia is growing in every possible way. Addressing the electricity needs of the region’s urban households is particularly relevant where cooling is concerned. This paper is about how people go about keeping cool in Metro Manila, the Philippines, focused on air-conditioning in the home. It is part of a growing body of research in ‘sustainab...
Article
Full-text available
This article explores contemporary forms of social and solidarity-based economies, commonly known in French as économie sociale et solidaire (ESS). In English-speaking countries, these activities are part of what is being called the human or people-centered economy, or new economics-a growing area of research, policy and practice that is highly rel...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, there has been growing interest in applying social practice theory to theorizing consumption, specifically in relation to transforming practices that have problematic environmental impacts. In this paper, we address the questions: how do changes in practices occur, and what are the levers for influencing change towards more sustain...
Chapter
Asia is developing rapidly in every possible way. Shifting standards of living are leading to higher resource consumption, with higher energy consumption and resulting emissions. The focus of this chapter is to provide an overview of energy consumption trends in Southeast Asia, first by considering the region as a whole and projections for its grow...
Chapter
Air-conditioning is a relatively recent invention, yet in a matter of decades it has moved from being a novelty to being not only normal but also expected in certain contexts. This chapter explores the history of air-conditioning, in the Philippines and the region, as well as the strategies currently used by different people to keep cool in the meg...
Chapter
A shift towards more sustainable consumption patterns through the social practice theory lens entails understanding how practices are reproduced, abandoned or changed. Change can occur across different elements of a practice. Norms around what constitutes healthy and comfortable indoor air climates can be debated and challenged, for example, and ho...
Chapter
This book has set out to explore existing air-conditioning consumption patterns and practices in Southeast Asia, with a view from Metro Manila to other mega-cities in the region. The general outlook appears bleak: total air-conditioning consumption will no doubt increase massively in Southeast Asia, in relation to population growth, increases in af...
Chapter
How we build homes, communities and cities is a critical area in terms of future energy consumption and environmental impact, related to the depletion of fossil fuels and climate change. To contextualize current housing trends in the Philippines, the history of architecture will be presented in this chapter, looking back at vernacular architecture...
Chapter
Air-conditioning provides the service of cooler and dryer air, which for many is associated with greater indoor comfort in hot and humid weather conditions. In studying air-conditioning consumption in Southeast Asia, it became apparent that the service of cool air actually provides a whole host of secondary services related to different practices,...
Article
Full-text available
Marlyne D. Sahakian reflects on the role of everyday people in charting transitions towards greener economies. The main assumption is that individual actions will not suffice: some forms of collective action will be necessary to challenge existing institutions, norms and values that are tied up with un-sustainable practices. Drawing from fieldwork...