The Role of Social Capital in Sustainable Consumption

Carita J. Niemi
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Social capital and sustainable consumption are both concepts that have received considerable attention during the past two decades or so. The literature on sustainable consumption suggests that improved social relations and community life could help people to change their consumption behaviour towards more sustainable patterns of consumption. However, the direct empirical research in this area is sparse, if not completely missing.

The aim of this presentation is, first, to critically examine the nature of both of these concepts, and then to explore the relationship between them. Preliminary results of an on-going qualitative empirical study, investigating the experiences and perceptions of different consumer types with regard to their use and possession of social capital, will be presented. The study describes how the nature and extent of social capital, defined as consisting of networks of social relations, varies across different consumer types and how these consumer types use and experience their social capital. The study represents a move away from a mere quantitative measurements of social capital and its manifested impacts, towards a more qualitative and holistic approach, aiming not only for a better understanding of the relationship between social capital and consumption behaviour, but also for a more coherent and comprehensive conceptual treatment of the concept of social capital.

Keywords: Sustainable Consumption, Social Capital, Consumer Types, Networks
Stream: Sociology and Geography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Role of Social Capital in Sustainable Consumption, The

Carita J. Niemi

PhD Student, Sustainability Research Institute,
School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds

Leeds, UK

Ref: I06P0079