Living standards and changing expectations : investigating domestic necessity and environmental sustainability in an affluent society
This study explores how the problematic relations of rising living standards and environmental sustainability may be better understood by investigating domestic necessity and daily going-on. These key subjects are looked at from two angles and through two kinds of research material: statistics and quantitative survey material constituting of a nationally representative longitudinal dataset of Finnish people (n=2,417 in 1999, n=3,574 in 2004, n=1,202 in 2009), and in-depth interviews (n=14) of a particular socio-economic group, the well-to-do who have higher-than average income and higher education, and those in their prime working age (30–45 years-old). The survey material provides a temporal change perspective and socio-economic and demographic dimensions while the interviews allows for the exploration of lived and experienced daily lives. A conceptual apparatus informed by theories of practice is utilised. It is argued in this study that despite sustainability efforts to decrease consumption, levels of necessities and consumption are on a rise. The process is inseparable from socio-cultural and material surroundings that both constrain and construct consumption patterns and expectations. This study supports the view that people are entangled in daily ‘musts’, managing their daily lives which are scheduled by multiple intersecting practices with often conflicting demands. Therefore, organizing daily life is not necessarily rational or consistent. Obvious priorities are in the comfort and well-being of oneself and one’s family. Therefore, despite the general knowledge and concern about environmental issues, and the leeway provided by the higher education and higher-than-average income, people perceived ‘doing sustainability’ as requiring money and time, both of which people consider they do not have, and familiarisation, perceived as inconveniencing daily proceedings. This study suggests that the space for sustainability in the organisation of everyday life lies in the intersection of, first, the historical and collective developments as societal sediments and leeway; second, personal histories and lived and experienced life creating predispositions (sediments) orienting the use of people’s resources and engagement in practices (leeway); and, third, the environmental space set by natural limits. The findings highlight the need for changes in the overall frame of thinking and operating, including broader systemic changes in pursuing sustainability. ...
PublisherUniversity of Jyväskylä
sustainability standard of living normality necessity daily life kestävä kehitys ekologinen kestävyys elintaso vaikutukset kulutus kuluttajakäyttäytyminen sosioekonominen asema sosiokulttuuriset tekijät kulutustottumukset kotitaloudet arkielämä ympäristötietoisuus kestävä kulutus hyvinvointivaltio elämäntapa ekologisuus eettinen kulutus arki
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