Sustainable lifestyles and teenage realities

Part of the programme “Sparkling Science” (BMWF); project duration: Sep 2009 – Feb 2011

Projekt management: Dr. Anja Christanell (ÖIN)

Project implementation: Dr. Anja Christanell, Mag. Irma Pelikan, Mag. Michaela Leitner (ÖIN)

Scientific cooperation partners: Vienna University of Economics and Business, Institute for Sociology and Social Research; Institute for Innovative Education, IBF, Vienna

Participating schools: BRG Marchettigasse, Vienna; AHS Rahlgasse, Vienna

Links to the project: Project description, Facebook, print media

In the course of the project “MY LIFE – MY STYLE – MY FUTURE”, pupils of two 6th forms of the Viennese schools AHS Rahlgasse and BRG Marchettigasse analysed their own lifestyles and those of other teenagers at their schools. Exploring dimensions of what may be understood by a sustainable lifestyle as it is conceptualised in public discourse and in sustainability research, they also tested their own lifestyles on sustainability. Based on their findings, they are furthermore creating areas for more sustainable practices within their own lives and communicating the results of their study to coeval students and the scientific community using their own communicative means, and to the public on web 2.0 media.

In terms of theory, the project draws on current research findings on sustainable lifestyles and target-group specific communication on sustainability from the social sciences. Methodologically, empirical social research provided the basis for the project (developing questionnaires, data collection and analysis, focus groups, group discussions, mind mapping, research diaries, participant observation, literature and media research etc.), but also methods from ecology (ecological footprint, carbon footprint) were employed in an interdisciplinary context. In concordance with the pupils and the teachers, the methods were adapted to a school context and developed for this purpose. Thus, the young scientists collect empirical date and are at the same time able to bring about practical changes in their own social environment.

This project provides important insights into adolescent lifestyles and the relevance of sustainability in their realities. It reveals in which areas teenagers are prepared to assume social and ecological responsibilities, and which new symbols, images and media are necessary in sustainability communication in order to address them.
Project aims:

• To explore their own lifestyles and the lifestyles of other teenagers, as well as the different means of expression (language, music, products relevant for style, new media consumption, technologies etc.) they use to communicate their lifestyles.

• To acquire knowledge about sustainable lifestyles, raising awareness for the relevance of sustainability for their own future, and to relate claims to sustainability to their own realities

• To enable the young scientists to create areas in which the lifestyles of teenagers may be rendered more sustainable, as well as to facilitate communication in distinctive ways appropriate to their age and through new media.

Bertsch, Christian; Christanell, Anja; Leitner, Michaela (2012): Bridging the Gap between Research and Science Education – Potentials and Challenges of authentic inquiry in Research-Education-Collaborations. Proceedings of the ESERA Conference 2011, 5.-9.09.2011, Lyon, France. download

Leitner, Michaela; Christanell, Anja; Bertsch, Christian; Brunner, Karl-Michael (2011): my life – my style – my future. Nachhaltige Lebensstile und jugendliche Lebenswirklichkeiten. Final report. Vienna: Institute for Sustainable Development.

Leitner, Michaela (2011): Jugendliche Lebensstile und Nachhaltigkeit. Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie, Vol. 36, 2011, 109-119.