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Sustainability, self-identity and the sociology of consumption


  • Dennis Soron

    (Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, Canada)


In order to develop a more nuanced model of consumer behaviour and the dynamics of behavioural change, this paper argues, the discourse of sustainable consumption needs to draw more fully upon the sociological literature addressing consumption, its varied drivers, and the complex roles it plays within contemporary life. Since its revival in the 1980s, the sociology of consumption has largely focused on the ways in which everyday consumption choices in affluent societies facilitate the process of creating and sustaining a 'self-identity'. While the literature in this field is not without its own flaws, framing sustainable consumption in relation to the problem of self-identity enables us to confront not only the psycho-cultural factors that maintain demand for material goods, but also the difficulties faced by ordinary people as they try to understand and respond ethically to large-scale social and ecological problems within an everyday environment that is highly commodified and individualized. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Dennis Soron, 2010. "Sustainability, self-identity and the sociology of consumption," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(3), pages 172-181.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:18:y:2010:i:3:p:172-181
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.457

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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Marinescu & Marin Burcea, 2012. "Information and Ecological Behaviour towards the Natural Resources Consumption of the Population of Bucharest," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 14(31), pages 142-156, February.
    2. Denise Baden & Swarna Prasad, 2016. "Applying Behavioural Theory to the Challenge of Sustainable Development: Using Hairdressers as Diffusers of More Sustainable Hair-Care Practices," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 133(2), pages 335-349, January.
    3. Veronika Andorfer & Ulf Liebe, 2012. "Research on Fair Trade Consumption—A Review," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 106(4), pages 415-435, April.
    4. Hedlund-de Witt, Annick, 2011. "The rising culture and worldview of contemporary spirituality: A sociological study of potentials and pitfalls for sustainable development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(6), pages 1057-1065, April.
    5. repec:eee:touman:v:62:y:2017:i:c:p:120-134 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Bina, Olivia & Vaz, Sofia Guedes, 2011. "Humans, environment and economies: From vicious relationships to virtuous responsibility," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 170-178.

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