Sustainable consumption and social realities

A study commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Environment; project duration: Dec 2008 – Dec 2009

Project management and implementation: Dr. Anja Christanell (ÖIN)

It is crucial to sustainability politics to understand how the patterns of consumption within a certain society are determined and shaped and how traditional patterns of consumption may be modified through social or individual transformations, making room for other (sustainable) consumer behaviour.

Supporting sustainable consumption in a targeted way is particularly successful if the measures taken acknowledge social realities and developments and tie up with them. Recognising the heterogeneity of a certain society, it is important to not only prescribe or propagate a course towards sustainable consumption, but also to develop target-specific communication strategies and possible ways of sustainably reaching this aim that do justice to the variety of realities, stages of life and scopes of action of the consumers.

This study analyses available findings on patterns of consumption and trends in consumer behaviour, as well as investigating the conditions for changes in the consumption habits of a given society. On the basis of these insights, communication strategies adequate to the needs and demands of consumers are being elaborated. The study therefore represents a valuable scientific contribution to the field of sustainable consumption policies.

Christanell, Anja (2009): Nachhaltiger Konsum und gesellschaftliche Lebensrealitäten. Ansätze zur Förderung nachhaltiger Konsummuster unter besonderer Berücksichtigung soziokultureller Einflüsse, gesellschaftlicher Trends und Kommunikationsstrategien. Final report. Vienna: Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development.