Advances in Understanding Green Consumption
Green consumption has expanded rapidly over the past 25 years, as evidenced by green product labeling, rapid expansion of the organic foods market, and a growing popular literature on the topic. Although environmental sociologists use indicators of green consumption in their measures of pro-environmental behaviour (e.g., buying organic produce), these indicators are subsumed under the broader category of aiming to reduce one’s impact on the environment through personal lifestyle decisions. There is also a lack of critical engagement with the conceptual and methodological limitations that characterize a lifestyle-centred approach to consumption, including difficulties arising from its inherent tendency to individualise responsibility for environmental protection. Most notably, robust theoretical debates concerning the impact of societal conditions (e.g., norms, regulations, economic constraints, policy) on individuals’ consumption decisions remain scarce. As a result, environmental sociology has yet to develop a coherent approach to studying green consumption.
This session is intended to both synthesize and generate critical environmental sociological accounts of green consumption. The session invites papers presenting empirical research on green consumption as this phenomenon is experienced by individuals, corporations, governments, and/or environmental non-governmental organizations. We are particularly interested in papers that:
- Advance understanding of the impact green consumption has on political participation;
- Examine the relationship between green consumption and social inequality;
- Theorize green consumption from an environmental sociological perspective;
- Introduce innovative measures of attitudes and practices related to green consumption that go beyond methodological individualism;
- Examine short-term and long-term environmental and societal impacts of green consumption in new and innovative ways.