Our approach

Understanding sustainable consumption requires focus on how people live, how they acquire, appreciate, use and dispose of goods and services, and how innovations can promote a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Challenging orthodox thinking

Our researchers undertake interdisciplinary social scientific analysis of the processes of production and consumption, within a diverse range of scales and contexts:

  • international
  • national
  • urban
  • sectoral
  • organisational
  • community

We use a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, from large-scale surveys and time-use analysis to participant observation and historical research.

Much of our work is comparative in nature, of societies, cultures, social groups and sectors. We believe that such analysis is critical for identifying the most important processes that lead to, or hinder, societal change.

We challenge orthodox thinking on sustainable consumption and production by looking beyond individual actors, such as the consumer or the firm. We examine the ways such actors interact and how these interactions configure societies.

Communicating our work

We regularly communicate our research findings and insights to a range of audiences, through:

  • academic journals
  • blogs
  • books
  • exhibitions
  • policy consultation
  • policy notes
  • public debates
  • stakeholder reports
  • the media
  • workshops

We actively engage with businesses, policy-makers and civil society organisations, striving to inform wider public debate.

"The unsustainability of current consumption patterns is closely linked to social inequality: the environmental and health burden of production and consumption tends to be placed disproportionately on deprived communities. It is our aim to understand how current modes of provision perpetuate such inequality so we can help facilitate more just sustainable practices of consumption and production."

Frank Boons / Director, SCI