The purpose of this paper is to examine how individuals define ethical consumption (EC) and then how they negotiate ethical consumption as they move from one country to another. The authors explore these questions by reporting on and interpreting the evolution of their understanding of EC and their own ethical consumption behavior, the EC practices that have endured over time and national context, the tensions they encountered in maintaining EC practices in these transitions and the adaptive strategies they used to manage those tensions. While there has been research on the tensions faced by individuals practicing EC, there has been a paucity of research investigating those tensions from a cross-country and longitudinal perspective. Moreover, although several studies have focused on EC purchase practices of specific goods (e.g., athletic shoes, fair-trade commodities), none has considered this question in the context of purchases of basic needs categories – food, water, energy, transportation and housing. Each of the three authors has been able to maintain her/his own personal consumption ethic in spite of living in different countries. Whenever consumption practices emanate from, and are imbedded within, a strong ethical framework of values that informs EC, each was able to make the necessary adjustments to overcome the obstacles and points of resistance across countries. Even in those situations involving considerable inconvenience and discomfort, each used adaptive strategies that allowed retention of their consumption practices. Among those strategies employed by the authors were choice of community in which to live, self-regulation and self-reliance.
Phipps, M., Ozanne, L.K., Luchs, M.G., Subrahmanyan, S., Kapitan, S., Catlin, J.R., Gau, R., Naylor, R.W., Rose, R.L., Simpson, B. & Weaver, T. 2013, "Understanding the inherent complexity of sustainable consumption: A social cognitive framework", Journal of Business Research, vol. 66, no. 8, pp. 1227.
This article explores the potential of a theoretical framework, based on social cognitive theory (SCT), to inspire future research into sustainable consumption. The SCT framework provides a dynamic perspective on sustainable consumption through exploring the interactive nature of personal, environmental and behavioral factors of consumption. The SCT framework, which builds on prior theoretical models of sustainable consumption, incorporates the concept of reciprocal determinism, wherein personal, environmental and behavioral factors create a feedback loop to influence each other. Two examples, toy sharing in New Zealand and water conservation in Australia, illustrate the dynamic nature of sustainable consumption and the potential of an SCT based framework to provide a more nuanced view of behavioral change in this context. From these two examples, several ideas for future research emerge to help illustrate the potential of SCT to inform and inspire the next wave of research on sustainable consumption.
The idea of sustainable consumption is one that receives a great deal of attention. Everyone from the scientific research community, from Green Peace to Nobel Laureate Al Gore, has argued convincingly and forcefully that our current level of consumption of natural resources is unsustainable. Our aim is to provide a deeper and more mature understanding of the layers of richness, collectively shared meanings, common values and environmental factors that both enable and discourage sustainable consumption practices. Using a method of subjective personal introspection (SPI), the authors uncover several dimensions that, taken together, form a more comprehensive explanation of why individuals may or may not succeed in their effort to consume more sustainably. Several of the dimensions revealed included the presence or absence of public infrastructure of one's place of residence, family composition, and the educational awareness of consumers.
Luchs, M., Naylor, R.W., Rose, R.L., Catlin, J.R., Gau, R., Kapitan, S., Mish, J., Ozanne, L., Phipps, M., Simpson, B., Subrahmanyan, S. & Weaver, T. 2011, "Toward a Sustainable Marketplace: Expanding Options and Benefits for Consumers", Journal of Research for Consumers, , no. 19, pp. 1-12.
While popular interest in sustainable consumption continues to grow, there is a persistent gap between consumers' typically positive explicit attitudes towards sustainability and their actual consumption behaviours. This gap can be explained, in part, by the belief that choosing to consume sustainably is both constraining and reduces individual-level benefits. While the belief that sustainable consumption depends on making trade-offs is true in some contexts, increasingly consumers are finding that more sustainable forms of consumption can provide both an expanded set of options and additional, individual-level benefits. In this essay, we discuss and illustrate an expanded set of options and benefits across the consumption cycle: from acquisition to usage and disposition. An underlying theme is the separation of material ownership from the extraction of consumer benefits across the consumption cycle. We believe that this ongoing evolution of products - and even business models - has the potential to simultaneously increase value to consumers as well as speed progress towards a more sustainable marketplace.
The purpose of this paper is to present a “human ecology economics" (HEE) framework for understanding economic growth and development challenges in Eastern Europe. The HEE approach relies on evolutionary and complex systems processes, expands the field of ecological economics by incorporating interdisciplinary material from the humanities, and it allows a long-run perspective with a focus on sustainability of human systems. Using this framework and primary research from Hungary, Estonia and Azerbaijan, challenges to Eastern European development are identified. The main limit to Eastern European sustainable development is not “production capital”, i.e. the availability of natural resources, fixed human-made capital and intermediate consumption, but instead shortages of “transaction capital”, i.e. “social capital, informational capital, and financial capital.” Rigorous analytical models of, and precise predictions of, change in the human ecology are at present not possible using evolutionary and complex systems approaches; however, Eastern Europe can be fruitfully studied through the HEE approach and certain simulation methods and lessons from recent history are suggested. Greater support for various kinds of transaction capital is recommended, including for social and communication networks, for information exchange between small and medium size businesses, for innovation and creative learning by doing, for financial intermediation, for better inter-party cooperation at the national level, etc. The need for greater social cooperation, including a reduction in discrimination exercised by dominant individuals or groups, arises as a more important pre-condition for sustainable economic growth than is commonly believed.
Scholars, policymakers, and practitioners might appreciate the more comprehensive interdisciplinary framework for understanding economic growth and development challenges in Eastern Europe, especially the role played by intangible belief systems, social agreements, and levels of cooperation.
This book presents ‘human ecology economics’ (HEE) as a new and more comprehensive interdisciplinary framework for understanding ‘world conditions and human systems.’ This book helps economists rethink the boundaries and methods of their discipline so that they can participate more fully in debates over humankind’s present problems and on the ways that they can be solved.
Authors contributing to this book agree that human ecology economics is a superior framework for responding to global sustainability concerns because, unlike traditional economics and other social sciences, it allows a long time run perspective, encourages use of the humanities and effectively juxtaposes ‘sustainability’ and other interdisciplinary issues alongside traditional economic issues. The contributors explore the following types of questions: What drives innovation and evolution in the world economy? What allows the U.S. one-third of the world’s wealth and a leadership role going into the twenty-first century? How can we better understand and address the causes of poverty, inequality, social conflict and inadequate food and energy supplies? Will responding to climate change and other concerns require changes in our ways of being? The book is written for the non-specialist as well as the professional economist in order to advance shared understanding of these ‘challenges to humankind’.