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Sustainable Consumption Institute

Environmental habitus

This research explores the intergenerational transmission of environmental behaviours in cross national comparison.

Our aims

Photograph of a market place in South Korea, showing rubbish collection site.

We propose a conceptual framework that is an alternative to the current emphasis on demographic and attitudinal characteristics as correlates of environmental behaviours. We propose a shift of focus to the family unit, to examine the importance of intergenerational transmission of dispositions that are favourable to pro-environmental behaviour. Our main theoretical heuristic is environmental habitus. It argues that a pro-environmental disposition runs in the family; if one’s family holds values and behavioural dispositions of frugality, modesty, or conservation, it will have consequences for everyday pro-environmental behaviour. Adoption of environmental behaviours does not take place only because people follow the imperatives of the environmental movement or government, or because they hold an environmental ideology, but it also lies in the mundane, daily practices and rituals of a family.

Cross-national comparison

With Itay Greenspan (Hebrew University) and Femida Handy (University of Pennsylvania) and with funding from the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation, we ask if environmental takes different forms in three different national contexts – Israel, the United States, and South Korea. Our analysis is based on two original data sources: group interviews of family triads (grandparents, parents, children), and nationally-representative surveys of family dyads (parents and children).

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