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Reframing Individual Responsibility for Sustainable Consumption: Lessons from Environmental Justice and Ecological Citizenship

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In this paper I consider the concept of responsibility within sustainable consumption. The paper was inspired by interviews with individuals engaged in community action for sustainability, where respondents held a rather individualistic conception of responsibility. In order to develop a deeper understanding of responsibility I compare sustainable consumption, environmental justice and ecological citizenship literatures. This leads me to develop a new conceptual framework which explains responsibility in relation to the ecological footprint. This framework recognises both the responsibility of the individual for sustainable practice and the limitations on individual action due to their context. It also allows for differentiation between individuals' responsibilities given people's circumstances and their ability to engage with change.
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Keywords: ecological footprint; individualisation; practice theory; responsibility; sustainable consumption

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-05-01

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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