Innogen · News · May 5, 2010

New Research Project: Social Science and Sustainable consumption

Innogen's Dr Sarah Parry will embark on a new 3-year research project as part of the newly funded ESRC/DEFRA/Scottish Government Sustainable Practices Group.

How Might Social Science Influence Public and Policy Debates About Sustainable Consumption And Behaviours?

This is a £3 million investment to create two groups - one co-ordinated by Professor Alan Warde at the University of Manchester and the other co-ordinated by Professor Tim Jackson at the University of Surrey. Sarah’s work is part of the Manchester-led group that involves collaborators from the Universities of Essex, Lancaster, Leeds and Manchester.

The aim of the Sustainable Practices Group is to develop fresh understandings about how social practices change and how to encourage more sustainable behaviours. The focus will be on three environmentally sensitive domains of practice – Eating, Sheltering and Washing and Watering – to analyse the multi-level processes that shape consumer behaviour.

Particular emphasis will be placed on consumption – on the grounds that changing the consumption practices of billions of individuals poses the greatest challenge to the achievement of sustainability. The Sustainable Practices Group takes it cue from social theories that emphasize the importance of collective understandings and everyday practices, habits and routines, and on the material and social circumstances that constrain behaviour in order to find levers for intervention.

Sarah is the Principle Investigator for the Engagement, Interaction and Influence work-package. Taking her previous research on public engagement into this new empirical area, her research will involve establishing new ways of thinking about behaviour in political, policy and public debate. Using a combination of action research interventions into stakeholder organisations and dissemination in the vein of ‘interactive social science’, her role is to understand current policy-related processes concerning sustainable consumption and to insert the group’s distinctive social science perspective into public and policy debates while also analysing the implications of doing so.

This is an exciting challenge for Sarah and a Research Fellow will join her for 18-months, starting early 2011.

For additional information, please contact .