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Individual Paper: Reducing Consumption: A Review of the Literature

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To achieve degrowth in Western, high-consuming societies, a necessary requirement is a change in consumption patterns, particularly a reduction in consumption levels (Jackson 2016; Kallis 2011; Lorek & Spangenberg 2014) – a change henceforth referred to as sufficiency. However, research on sufficiency is scattered across a number of streams of research, with no overview of the knowledge accumulated. This paper reviews previous research on sufficiency. The review includes previous research on the topics of voluntary simplicity, anti-consumption, strong sustainable consumption, frugality, materialism, and the sharing economy. The paper gives an overview of the different approaches to sufficiency adopted in previous research. It gives new insights into sufficiency by bringing together streams of research that have previously mainly stayed separated.

It has been suggested that research on sufficiency most often focuses on the agency of individual consumers (Schaefer & Crane 2005), studying sufficiency on the micro-level rather than considering sufficiency a macro-level issue that requires changes to consumer culture and the structures of society (Lorek & Fuchs 2013). This paper analyses the micro and macro level issues that have been considered in previous research on sufficiency. Furthermore, the paper discusses reductions in consumption by individuals versus on the aggregate level of larger groups as well as identifies the various motivating factors for sufficiency that have been indicated in previous research. As research has established that food, housing, and transportation are the largest contributors to the environmental impact of consumption (Lettenmeier et al. 2014; UNEP 2010), the review pays particular attention to how sufficiency has been suggested to change consumption patterns for food, housing, and transportation.

Jackson, Tim (2016), Prosperity without Growth: Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow. London: Routledge.
Kallis, Giorgos (2011), “In Defence of Degrowth,” Ecological Economics, 70 (5), 873-80.
Lettenmeier, Michael, Christa Liedtke, and Holger Rohn (2014), “Eight Tons of Material Footprint—suggestion for a Resource Cap for Household Consumption in Finland,” Resources, 3 (3), 488-515.
Lorek, Sylvia and Doris Fuchs (2013), “Strong Sustainable Consumption Governance – Precondition for a Degrowth Path?” Journal of Cleaner Production, 38 (January), 36-43.
Lorek, Sylvia and Joachim H. Spangenberg (2014), “Sustainable Consumption within a Sustainable Economy – Beyond Green Growth and Green Economies,” Journal of Cleaner Production, 63 (January), 33-44.
Schaefer, Anja and Andrew Crane (2005), “Addressing Sustainability and Consumption,” Journal of Macromarketing, 25 (1), 76-92.
UNEP (2010), Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production: Priority Products and Materials. A Report of the Working Group on the Environmental Impacts of Products and Materials to the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management. Hertwich, E., van der Voet, E., Suh, S., Tukker, A., Huijbregts M., Kazmierczyk, P., Lenzen, M., McNeely, J., Moriguchi, Y.


Day: 2018-08-24
Start time: 11:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: Moriskan (Bistron)
Track: - Other - (fill submission note below)



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