Theories of practices: Agency, technology, and culture. Exploring the relevance of practice theories for the governance of sustainable consumption practices in the new world-order

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Within the environmental social sciences, theories of practices are used by an increasing number of authors to analyze the greening of consumption in the new, global order of reflexive modernity. The use of practices as key methodological units for research and governance is suggested as a way to avoid the pitfalls of the individualist and systemic paradigms that dominated the field of sustainable consumption studies for some decades. With the help of practice theory, environmental governance can be renewed in three particular ways: First, the role and responsibilities (not) to be assigned to individual citizenconsumers in environmental change can be specified. Secondly, objects, technologies and infrastructures can be recognized for their crucial contribution to climate governance without lapsing into technological determinism. Third, the cultural framing of sustainability can be enriched by looking into the forms of excitement generated in shared practices of sustainable consumption. We conclude by discussing the need to investigate the globalization of practices from a post-national perspective in both science and policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)813-822
JournalGlobal environmental change : human and policy dimensions
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011



  • household
  • politics

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