Advances in Understanding Green Consumption

Friday, 20 July 2018: 10:30-12:20
RC24 Environment and Society (host committee)

Language: English

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.
Session Organizers:
Henrike RAU, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich Tax ID DE811205325, Germany and Emily HUDDART KENNEDY, Washington State University, USA
Oral Presentations
Environmental Habitus: The Intergenerational Transmission of Environmental Behaviors in Cross-National Comparison
Tally KATZ-GERRO, University of Manchester, United Kingdom; Itay GREENSPAN, Hebrew University, Israel; Femida HANDY, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Fantasy and Outrage at the Farmers Market
Sang-hyoun PAHK, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA
Revisiting the Green Consumer – Attitudes, Identity and the Conditions of Environmental Consumption
Guido MEHLKOP, University of Erfurt, Germany; Robert NEUMANN, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany; Peter GRAEFF, Christian-Albrechts University Kiel, Germany