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Politicising the study of sustainable living practices

Knott, Janice Denegri; Nixon, Elizabeth; Abraham, Kathryn


Janice Denegri Knott

Kathryn Abraham


In studies of consumption, social theories of practice foreground the purchasing and use of resources not for intrinsic pleasure but rather in the routine accomplishment of ‘normal’ ways of living. In this paper we argue that a key strength of theories of practice lies in their ability to expose questions of power in the construction of normality, but that this has been largely overlooked. Since practice theories are leveraged in understanding urgent questions of climate change, we use ethnographic data of a sustainable community in England to examine the normative dimension of sustainability. Using Michel Foucault’s approach to practice, we elucidate the social technologies operating in the community that govern sustainable practices in the absence of a singular cultural authority. We illustrate how shared understanding guiding normative sustainable practice was negotiated and maintained through collective ethical work, the paramount importance of interpersonal harmony, and the continual formation of ethical subjects.


Knott, J. D., Nixon, E., & Abraham, K. (2018). Politicising the study of sustainable living practices. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 21(6), 554-573.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 25, 2017
Online Publication Date Jan 4, 2018
Publication Date Jan 4, 2018
Deposit Date Oct 31, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 5, 2019
Journal Consumption, Markets and Culture
Print ISSN 1025-3866
Electronic ISSN 1477-223X
Publisher Taylor & Francis Open
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 6
Pages 554-573
Keywords Foucault, dispositive, power, practice theory, regimes of practice, sustainable consumption
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Consumption, Markets and Culture on 04/01/2018, available online:


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