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Open Access Sustainable Consumption – Three Paradoxes

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Sustainable consumption is a field in transition, with limited agreement around organizing questions, key definitions, overarching frameworks and fundamental disciplinary traditions. The resulting dissonance complicates the collaboration and cumulative generation of knowledge typical of effec tive research communities. This dissonance emerges from the papers in this special issue of GAIA, which together illustrate three paradoxes that characterize the field: the primacy of the individual consumer, the counterproductive search for definitions, and limited theorizing about social change and a consequent retreat from power. Concerted struggle with these paradoxes can illuminate new approaches to defining and advancing the field, including those outlined in this essay.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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  • GAIA is a peer-reviewed inter- and transdisciplinary journal for scientists and other interested parties concerned with the causes and analyses of environmental and sustainability problems and their solutions.

    Environmental problems cannot be solved by one academic discipline. The complex natures of these problems require cooperation across disciplinary boundaries. Since 1991, GAIA has offered a well-balanced and practice-oriented forum for transdisciplinary research. GAIA offers first-hand information on state of the art environmental research and on current solutions to environmental problems. Well-known editors, advisors, and authors work to ensure the high quality of the contributions found in GAIA and a unique transdisciplinary dialogue – in a comprehensible style.

    GAIA is an ISI-journal, listed in the Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Science Citation Index and in Current Contents/Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    All contributions undergo a double-blind peer review.

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