Governing Everyday Consumption

S. Wahlen

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, other


Current societies face several challenges and it has been indicated that sustainability is a major problem. It appears vital to possess knowledge on how to govern problems associated with sustainable development in order to mitigate the challenges they bring about. In this frame of reference, sustainable consumption appears imperative for reaching sustainability. In accord, this dissertation elaborates on how consumption is governed by a variety of instances and hence contributes to consumer studies by progressing consumer policy as well as the everyday life of consumers in offering distinctive perspectives on governing consumption. Consumer policy attempts to govern consumption, however, predominantly focuses on market activities instead of everyday consumption. Respectively, consumption is here understood as everyday conduct in social practices so as to shed light on its routine and mundane character. The idea of government deployed in this dissertation is that of executing power over oneself or others in conduct of conduct. Hence it is possible to speak of the government of states, households, consumers, or the self. Regimes of prac tices governing consumption can then be found beyond and along the political and market spheres in the everyday. The idea of sustainable development pertains to political practices as well as to everyday routines governing consumption. In order to govern consumption towards a more sustainable form of conduct, practitioners in political, market and everyday spheres can be considered by an analytics of government. Thereby a nexus concatenating distinct features can be distinguished including modes of thought, technologies of government, visual representations and identities involved in government. These four features are considered in the analysis of the individual articles providing perspectives on how consumption is governed. On the one hand consumer policy is comparatively analysed considering first the historic development of consumer empowerment and second on the discursive construction of the consumer in policy documents. The other perspectives on governing consumption convey examples drawing on food consumption. First, a practice approach highlights routines governing consumption, and second, a policy intervention related to public catering is analysed. The results highlight the importance of a possible politico-theoretical alignment of the four features of an analytics of government by the respective practitioners in political, market and everyday spheres. The interplay between modes of thought, technologies of government, visual representations and identities plays a vital role in governing consumption. In order to achieve sustainability and especially sustainable consumption it has to be acknowledged that these four features mutually interact and influence each another.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Helsinki
  • Heinonen, V., Promotor, External person
  • Lammi, M., Promotor, External person
  • Pantzar, M., Promotor, External person
Award date13 Jun 2012
Place of Publication[S.l.]
Print ISBNs9789516982505
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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