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Citizen-Consumers as Agents of Change in Globalizing Modernity: The Case of Sustainable Consumption

Author(s): Gert Spaargaren | Peter Oosterveer

Journal: Sustainability
ISSN 2071-1050

Volume: 2;
Issue: 7;
Start page: 1887;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: citizen-consumers | social practices | sustainable consumption | lifestyle-politics | globalization

The roles that individuals can adopt, or get assigned, in processes of global environmental change, can be analyzed with the help of three ideal-type forms of commitment: as environmental citizens, as political consumers, and as individual moral agents. We offer a discussion of the three roles in the context of sustainability changes in everyday life practices of consumption. Sociological accounts of (sustainability) transitions are discussed with respect to their treatment of the concept of agency vis à vis the objects, technologies, and infrastructures implied in globalizing consumption practices. Using consumption practices as basic units of analysis helps to avoid individualist and privatized accounts of the role of citizen-consumers in environmental change, while making possible a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between the personal and the planetary in the process of greening everyday life consumption.
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