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Household consumption and environmental change: Rethinking the policy problem through narratives of food practice

2 June 2015


Central to debates concerned with societal transition towards low-carbon living is the imperative to encourage individual subjects to shift their behaviours to support less consumptive ways of life: eating less meat, consuming less energy and water, and wasting less of what we do consume.

Dr Jessica Paddock from the Sustainable Places Research Institute and the Sustainable Consumption Institute, The University of Manchester, has released a paper which suggests that food practice provides a nexus point around which change can be more effectively conceptualised for public policies aimed at creating more sustainable ways of life. Through an understanding of food practice, Paddock argues we can explore means of locking and unlocking wider practices deemed unsustainable.

Exploring 10 consumer narratives relating to daily routines, derived from 30 interviews with householders living in and around a UK city, Paddock considers the dynamics surrounding consumption, unpacking the notion that consumers act as agents of choice. Drawing on accounts of daily routines, the article pays close attention to the complexity of social, cultural and material factors that shape narratives of daily life, where food emerges as a core organising principle.

The paper was published in the Journal of Consumer Culture on May 28, 2015.