Development of a Regular Consumer Survey for Monitoring Transition Processes

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 12:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Nina TROEGER, Chamber of Labour, Austria
Florian WUKOVITSCH, Chamber of Labour, Austria
Our intent is to create a consumer monitoring that focuses on the whole consumption act, including purchasing, using and disposal. Competences and practices, not just knowledge should be taken into account. The new survey should improve knowledge about consumption processes, especially regarding environmental and social aspects such as education, gender, and income. Key questions concern the interrelation between social class and consumption patterns, including their environmental impacts. Additional questions should be: Which are the underlying factors of consumption patterns? How do competences vary between different social groups and how could they be improved?

The research endeavor is embedded in the discourse on socio-ecological transition as there is a strong focus on patterns of consumption. The big question that is often raised is ‘how much is enough’? Disadvantaged groups, however, are often not able to fully participate in a consumer society or feel excluded due to lacking access to desirable products. Social pressure and demonstrative consumption are especially a big problem for the youth. Social aspects and inequality, thus, must be regarded as central dimensions in these debates. Transition, a shift of values, and the reduction of the overall consumption level should therefore also be seen as a chance to create more equal societies. 

Although several consumer surveys exist on different levels, a sound data basis for monitoring these transition processes is currently missing in Austria. While the Consumer Market Scoreboard on EU level and the Konsumenten-Barometer by the national ministry are well established, they lack essential features. Often data are only available on an aggregated level. Moreover, questions within the existing surveys are focused on the act of purchase (and ignore other forms of using). Because of these limitations, we attempt to show what an improved set of consumer data for our research endeavor would look like.