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Reframing Individual Responsibility for Sustainable Consumption: Lessons from Environmental Justice and Ecological Citizenship


  • Lucie Middlemiss


In this paper I consider the concept of responsibility within sustainable consumption. The paper was inspired by interviews with individuals engaged in community action for sustainability, where respondents held a rather individualistic conception of responsibility. In order to develop a deeper understanding of responsibility I compare sustainable consumption, environmental justice and ecological citizenship literatures. This leads me to develop a new conceptual framework which explains responsibility in relation to the ecological footprint. This framework recognises both the responsibility of the individual for sustainable practice and the limitations on individual action due to their context. It also allows for differentiation between individuals' responsibilities given people's circumstances and their ability to engage with change.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucie Middlemiss, 2010. "Reframing Individual Responsibility for Sustainable Consumption: Lessons from Environmental Justice and Ecological Citizenship," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 19(2), pages 147-167, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev19:ev1907

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Egoh, Benis & Rouget, Mathieu & Reyers, Belinda & Knight, Andrew T. & Cowling, Richard M. & van Jaarsveld, Albert S. & Welz, Adam, 2007. "Integrating ecosystem services into conservation assessments: A review," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 714-721, September.
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    9. Boyd, James & Banzhaf, Spencer, 2007. "What are ecosystem services? The need for standardized environmental accounting units," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2-3), pages 616-626, August.
    10. Clive L. Spash, 2006. "Non-Economic Motivation for Contingent Values: Rights and Attitudinal Beliefs in the Willingness To Pay for Environmental Improvements," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 82(4), pages 602-622.
    11. Mark Sagoff, 2008. "On the Economic Value of Ecosystem Services," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 17(2), pages 239-257, May.
    12. Clive L. Spash, 2008. "How Much is that Ecosystem in the Window? The One with the Bio-diverse Trail," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 17(2), pages 259-284, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Clive L. Spash, 2012. "Response and Responsibility," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 21(4), pages 391-396, November.
    2. Diana Mincyte, 2012. "How milk does the world good: vernacular sustainability and alternative food systems in post-socialist Europe," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 29(1), pages 41-52, March.
    3. Ty Raterman, 2012. "Bearing the Weight of the World: On the Extent of an Individual's Environmental Responsibility," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 21(4), pages 417-436, November.
    4. Young, William & Middlemiss, Lucie, 2012. "A rethink of how policy and social science approach changing individuals' actions on greenhouse gas emissions," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 742-747.
    5. Sarah Hards, 2011. "Social Practice and the Evolution of Personal Environmental Values," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 20(1), pages 23-42, February.
    6. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:1:p:263-:d:127806 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Sustainable consumption; ecological footprint; responsibility; individualisation; practice theory;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q26 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Recreational Aspects of Natural Resources


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