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... It is about recognizing, understanding and acting on interconnections" (UNGSP, 2012: 6). Therefore, it has been argued that process-oriented evaluations and definitions of transition paths should be used in addition to, or indeed instead of, result-oriented criteria such as the decrease in CO 2 -emissions (Rauschmayer and Omann, 2012). 2 Assessing the substantial effects of grassroots initiatives, e.g. with regard to reducing CO 2 emissions, is nevertheless essential for achieving changes towards sustainability. ...
... Relatedly, empathy with those most vulnerable by current unsustainable consumption patterns e be it residents of developing countries or future generations e also motivates behavior change (Hunecke, 2013). Rauschmayer and Omann (2012) regard the empathetic identification with ever-wider groups of fellow humans as a necessary precondition for an extended sense of morality and a 'deep' transition to sustainability. Bandura (2007), on the other hand, sees moral disengagement as an important impediment to ecological sustainability. ...
Article
In order to achieve sustainable societies, we need models of behavior that go beyond individuals equating wellbeing and material consumption levels. Lowering individual footprints might be more acceptable once we include social relations, adopting responsibilities for other human and non-human life as well as civic engagement as complementary sources of wellbeing. Grassroots initiatives that stimulate collective action and social learning contribute to these diverse sources of wellbeing when striving to facilitate sustainable consumption. Thus, they can become role models for societal change. This review sets out to investigate why grassroots initiatives are created and developed successfully by focusing on the processes of founding, engaging in, developing and maintaining grassroots initiatives. We look at insights from different disciplines that address behavioral change and social learning to develop an overview of factors that are from an interdisciplinary perspective highly relevant to understand societal change processes. By means of organizing the analysis along three levels of human behavior – the individual level, the group level, and the societal level – we capture the multifaceted relationships influencing the success of grassroots initiatives. We present theoretical and empirical evidence connecting a broad spectrum of concepts that can subsequently be used as testable factors in fieldwork for in-depth investigations of grassroots success.
... Additionally, consumers are often faced with a lack of expertise or ability needed for important decision making, especially when faced with sources offering conflicting advice (Klintman, 2006). A number of the SLR papers, through both a policy and a consumption study lens, addressed the need to motivate individuals through reminding them of their responsibilities to future generations and sought to move their selfinterest to encompass recognition of "public goods" (Rauschmayer and Omann, 2012;Schäpke and Rauschmayer, 2014). Other papers examined how scientists and policymakers need to deepen their understanding of the nature of individual motivation and trust, in order to influence individual behaviour (Heuer, 2012). ...
Technical Report
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Identify Pressures The challenges to sustainability and sustainable development have been amplified by the continued growth of the global economy. This research explored ways to gain a better and wider understanding of the values and motivations that influence sustainable consumption behaviour. A key challenge to green governance, sustainability and sustainable consumption is the dominant social paradigm, which can be characterised by a belief in unlimited abundance and progress, materialism, faith in the power of technology, minimal government intervention and unlimited private property rights, which greatly defines our neoliberal discourse. The findings from this research highlight the need for improved governance across all sectors in order to manage sustainable consumption and to recognise the strong link between environmental sustainability and health and well-being. Ultimately, it is important to recognise the interconnected nature of environmental systems and the inevitability of limits to growth. Inform Policy Policymakers view the challenges of “green growth” as ways to effectively link individual behavioural change, consumption and economic progress while also addressing the sustainability agenda. However, the findings from this research suggest that large-scale decarbonisation of society can be achieved only if fundamental changes are made to our current consumption patterns and lifestyles. The state utilises a range of policy measures to achieve its policy goals based on defined assumptions regarding individual and collective behaviour, which places a high degree of responsibility on individual action. This study challenges these assumptions as they relate to behaviour, values and governance and offers new insights to inform policy design. This study moves beyond a simplistic approach that addresses discrete elements of human consumption behaviour and seeks to understand their embeddedness within the culture and institutions of wider society and hence inform policy from a new and more insightful context. Develop Solutions The outputs of this project present the synthesis of a systematic literature review directed at a new understanding of the challenges of consumption policy, social structures and the boundary arrangements of governance. What emerges is a focus on the institutional and governance (socio-technical) approach. This evidence-based review proposes a new framework or “road map” to guide decision making and aid understanding of what motivates individuals and institutions within a wider neoliberal societal system to manage their consumption from a more sustainable policy and governance perspective. Indeed, a startling revelation of this research is that the rhetoric that places the focus of responsibility for sustainable consumption at the door of the consumer is greatly misplaced. This study suggests that governments and institutions need to acknowledge their role in defining societal values, norms and behaviours and calls for a new approach that recognises the responsibility of leading commercial interests and those empowered to govern in driving sustainability.
... Joy (2011) confirms that a majority of meat-eaters view eating animals as a cultural norm rather than a choice because it is ''not a necessity for survival'': people typically ''don't think about why they find eating dogs disgusting and eating cows appetizing or vice versa, or why they eat any animals at all'' (p. 105; see also Piazza et al. 2015;Rauschmayer and Omann 2012). Higgs (2015) explains that people follow these kinds of eating norms because doing so ''enhances affiliation with a social group and being liked'' and apparently confirms that one is behaving correctly. ...
... Joy (2011) confirms that a majority of meat-eaters view eating animals as a cultural norm rather than a choice because it is ''not a necessity for survival'': people typically ''don't think about why they find eating dogs disgusting and eating cows appetizing or vice versa, or why they eat any animals at all'' (p. 105; see also Piazza et al. 2015;Rauschmayer and Omann 2012). Higgs (2015) explains that people follow these kinds of eating norms because doing so ''enhances affiliation with a social group and being liked'' and apparently confirms that one is behaving correctly. ...
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A dietary shift towards reduced meat consumption is an efficient strategy for countering biodiversity loss and climate change in regions (developed and transition countries) where consumption is already at a very high level or is rapidly expanding (such as China). Biodiversity is being degraded and lost to a considerable extent, with 70 % of the world’s deforestation a result of stripping in order to grow animal feed. Furthermore, about 14.5 % of the world’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are calculated to be the result of (mainly industrial) livestock farming. The research reviewed here focuses on the feasibility of reducing meat consumption in developed and transition countries, as this would—among other positive effects—reduce the global loss of biodiversity, the need for unsustainable agricultural practices and GHG emissions. This article reviews the barriers, opportunities and steps that need to be taken in order to encourage the consumption of less meat, based on an interdisciplinary and multifactor approach. The evidence is gathered from a systematic meta-analysis of factors (including personal, sociocultural and external factors) that influence individual meat-eating behaviour. The most relevant factors that influence behaviour appear to be emotions and cognitive dissonance (between knowledge, conflicting values and actual behaviour) and sociocultural factors (e.g. social norms or social identity). For different factors and groups of people, different strategies are appropriate. For example, for men and older people deploying the health argument or arguing for flexitarianism (reduced meat consumption) may prove the most promising approaches, while providing emotional messages or promoting new social norms is recommended in order to address barriers such as cognitive dissonance.
... Secondly, even if individuals (voluntari ly) can (at least to some extent) foresee the effects of and assume responsibility for their consumer behaviors, they can only be made responsible for their intentions to contribute to (or to at least not impede) sustainable development. Essentially, the first position does not imply specific demands on consumers other than an overall willingness and intrinsic motivation to contribute to the aim of sustainability (Rauschmayer and Omann 2012) and the respective acceptance of public intervention (Heidbrink and Reidel 2011). This position is underpinned by the rather pessi mis tic assumption that consumers have only little interest in acquiring indepth knowledge about the impacts of their consumption choices anyway (Grunwald 2010). ...
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Sustainable consumption is a field characterized by complex system relations that do not allow prescribing easy solutions for changing consumer behavior. This paper provides an educational perspective on the controversial debates that have evolved in GAIA and the broader scholarly literature about the roles and responsibilities of individuals in the context of sustainable consumption. We introduce an educational key competencies approach comprising of seven generic competencies, and argue that the promotion of key competencies is a transversal contribution to this debate, as it does not favor any particular normative position, but is relevant across all. We advocate for a more comprehensive and effective conception of an educational contribution to promoting sustainable consumption that goes beyond the narrow focus of training skills, providing information, and testing for results.
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Ressourcenleicht, immissionsneutral und gerecht – das sind die Ziele der anstehenden großen Veränderungen, wenn wir die Belastungsgrenzen des Systems Erde, das Wohlergehen aller Menschen und die Idee einer globalen und generationenübergreifen den Gerechtigkeit ernst nehmen. Wir wissen viel darüber, was sich ändern soll. Allein, die Veränderun gen in Richtung Nachhaltigkeit kommen nicht schnell genug voran. Deswegen müssen wir uns intensiver mit den Wegen für einen erfolgreichen Wandel beschäftigen.
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Michael Bilharz und Katharina Schmitt argumentieren in GAIA 4/2011, dass das Verbreiten ausgewählter Konsum- und Verhaltensbeispiele (key points) zu strukturellen Veränderungen in Richtung Nachhaltigkeit führen kann. In diesem Heft hält Renate Hübner gemeinsame Lernprozesse für erfolgversprechender, um mit Spannungsfeldern und Widersprüchen umgehen zu können, die ein kultureller Wandel erzeugt. Auch Felix Rausch mayer und Ines Omann bezweifeln den Erfolg von Kommunikationsstrategien, die auf Ratschlägen beruhen: Sie plädieren für neue Methoden, die das Bewusstsein öffnen und so die Motivation für nachhaltiges Verhalten steigern.
Conference Paper
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Policies for sustainability transitions necessarily have three main characteristics: they are prescriptive with regard to dynamic societal processes, linked to the normativity of sustainable development, and are able to interlink both the societal and the individual levels. Taking transition management as a starting point, the paper elaborates that it cannot well address the second and third characteristic. We therefore suggest complementing transition management approaches with the individualistic capability approach and the more structural practice theory. We suggest a heuristic combination that places individuals back into the study of sustainability transitions and show with three suggestions how this might change research on and for transitions. Firstly, we propose to assess sustainability on individual, niche, and regime level; Secondly, we show that the crucial learning processes occurring in the transition processes can be better understood when interrelating the three levels; Finally, we elaborate that the governance of sustainability transitions necessarily has – at the same time – to foster free spaces for experimentation and to select those niches that are conducive to more instead of less sustainability.
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Barth, M. (2012): Social learning instead of educating the other. Reaction to M.Bilharz, K.Schmitt. 2011. Going Big with Big Matters. The Key Points Approach to Sustainable Consumption.GAIA 20/4: 232 –235. In: GAIA ‐ Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society 21 (2), 91–94.
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Armin Grunwald warnte in GAIA 3/2010 vor einer ,,Privatisierung der Nachhaltigkeit“; davor, den Schlüssel zur Lösung der Nachhaltigkeitsprobleme im individuellen (Konsum-)Handeln statt auf der politischen Ebene zu sehen. Michael Bilharz et al. werfen ihm in diesem Heft eine ,,Bagatellisierung der Konsumentenverantwortung“ vor: Konsumhandeln sei durchaus nachhaltigkeitsrelevant und zudem nicht ohne weiteres von politischem Handeln unterscheidbar. Bernd Siebenhüner verweist dann aus einer Governance-Perspektive auf die politischen Gestaltungsmöglichkeiten in den nichtstaatlichen Arenen moderner Gesellschaften. Armin Grunwald schließlich reagiert auf die Beiträge, indem er zeigt, wo Einigkeit besteht – und wo sein Verständnis von privatem Handeln, politischem Handeln Einzelner und staatlichem Handeln von dem seiner Kritiker(innen) abweicht.
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Sustainable consumption becomes increasingly important for solving sustainability problems: it can empower people to a conscious lifestyle and can pave the way for a sustainability-orientated policy making. But it is not sufficient to consume ecologically friendly products while neglecting those measures with a high environmental impact. To concentrate on so-called key points could therefore be a promising strategy for sustainability communication – but it cannot replace fundamental changes in our political frameworks.
Chapter
In der Soziologie standen seit jeher handlungs- und strukturtheoretisehe Zugänge in Konkurrenz zueinander. Wurden in der Gründungsphase der Soziologie diese gegensätzlichen Positionen von der an unterschiedlichen Handlungsorientierungen ansetzenden „verstehenden Soziologie” Max Webers und der an funktionalen Integrationsmechanismen moderner und vormoderner Gesellschaften orientierten Soziologie Emile Durkheims markiert, so reproduzierte sich diese Frontstellung in den nachfolgenden Theoriedebatten immer wieder aufs Neue. So erwächst dem in den 1950er Jahren dominanten struktur-funktionalistischen Ansatz Talcott Parsons im Gefolge der antiautoritären Protestbewegungen der 1960er Jahre zunächst zwar ein nicht minder strukturalistisch geprägter, statt an Ordnungsnun aber an Herrschafts- und Konfliktfragen orientierter neomarxistischer Gegenspieler. Seit den 1970er Jahren verschieben sich die Akzente in der Soziologie aber doch generell in Richtung alltagsnahe, interaktionsorientierte Forschungsansätze. Theoretische und methodische Innovationen kommen nun vor allem aus den Feldern des symbolischen Interaktionismus, lebensweltlich orientierter Alltagstheorien, dramaturgischer und ethnomethologischer Ansätze. In den 1980er Jahren gewinnen dann auch aus der Ökonomie re-importierte Theorien des rationalen Wahlhandelns (Rational Choice; siehe dazu auch den Beitrag von Liebe und Preisendoerfer in diesem Band) an Bedeutung. Auch Netzwerkanalysen setzen primär an der Mikro- und Mesoebene sozialer Interaktionen und Beziehungsmuster an. Dem steht, zumindest in Deutschland, die einflussreiche Schule der von Niklas Luhmann geprägten funktionalistischen Systemtheorie gegenüber.
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In this short and deliberately provocative paper I reflect on what seems to be a yawning gulf between the potential contribution of the social sciences and the typically restricted models and concepts of social change embedded in contemporary environmental policy in the UK, and in other countries too. As well as making a strong case for going beyond what I refer to as the dominant paradigm of ‘ABC’—attitude, behaviour, and choice—I discuss the attractions of this model, the blind spots it creates, and the forms of governance it sustains. This exercise provides some insight into why so much relevant social theory remains so marginalised, and helps identify opportunities for making better use of existing intellectual resources.
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The dynamics behind ever-increasing consumption have long been a core issue of ecological economics. Studies on this topic have traditionally drawn not only on insights from economics, but also from such disciplines as sociology, anthropology and psychology. In recent years, a practice theory approach has emerged in sociological consumption studies, as part of a general wave of renewed interest in practice theory emanating from a desire to move beyond such dominant dualisms as the structure-actor opposition in sociology. The purpose of this paper is to introduce the practice theory approach in relation to studies of everyday life, domestic practices and consumption, and to argue that this approach can be fruitful for ecological economics and other fields interested in the environmental aspects of consumption. The paper emphasizes the immense challenge involved in promoting sustainable consumption, and the need for collective efforts supported by research into the co-evolution of domestic practices, systems of provision, supply chains and production.
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Environmental policy-making can be challenging because of lobbying by strong private interests. This results in less consideration about what is best for the wider community. The main goal of this study is to evaluate to what extent it is possible to institutionalize a citizen's role in decision-support processes. While the literature makes a clear distinction between private and social values, very little research is undertaken on how the framing of the instituted process influences which types of value become legitimate. Two deliberative meetings with local inhabitants were conducted in a municipality in Norway focusing on land use policy in coastal areas. The meetings were framed to facilitate dialogue and to emphasize the most important values to protect, given the interests of the wider municipality in the longer run. A large majority of the participants found the framing appropriate. Analyses of the dialogues, letters written by participants before the meetings and individual interviews undertaken afterwards document that the format of the meetings influenced strongly which arguments were found legitimate. The setting favoured the identification and specification of social values for inhabitants of the involved municipality such as public accessibility in conserved nature areas along the coast. The data moreover give insights about how the framing influenced the process. Arguments in favour of private construction interests were present, but were found to be weak in legitimacy. The framing might, however, also have influenced which social values were emphasized the most strongly.