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Climate Change and SocietySociological Perspectives$
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Riley E. Dunlap and Robert J. Brulle

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199356102

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199356102.001.0001

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Consumption and Climate Change

Consumption and Climate Change

Chapter:
(p.93) 4 Consumption and Climate Change
Source:
Climate Change and Society
Author(s):

Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez

Juliet B. Schor

Wokje Abrahamse

Alison Hope Alkon

Jonn Axsen

Keith Brown

Rachael L. Shwom

Dale Southerton

Harold Wilhite

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199356102.003.0004

Household consumption is a major contributor to anthropogenic climate change. Studies suggest that residential sector energy consumption and personal transportation alone are responsible for 38% of U.S. emissions, while indirect emissions associated with consumption of food, water, goods, and services represent an even greater contribution. The link between households and carbon emissions offers opportunities for climate mitigation strategies, opportunities that have been overlooked or ignored given an over-reliance on economic and psychological approaches. This chapter shows that sociological approaches taking account of social class, routine behavior, cultural context, social practice, time use, and social aspects of technology adoption are crucial for successful policy interventions. The chapter analyzes household consumption by sector (energy, transport, food, and lifestyles), discussing the causes of household emissions and successful policy interventions aimed at mitigation. It highlights some innovative approaches that incorporate social context into policy design, and the complex interplay between “structure” and “agency.”

Keywords:   consumption, household consumption, social practice, technology, energy, food, lifestyle, social class

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