Consumption Corridors : Living a Good Life within Sustainable Limits book cover
1st Edition

Consumption Corridors
Living a Good Life within Sustainable Limits

ISBN 9780367748722
Published March 4, 2021 by Routledge
110 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Consumption Corridors: Living a Good Life within Sustainable Limits explores how to enhance peoples’ chances to live a good life in a world of ecological and social limits.

Rejecting familiar recitations of problems of ecological decline and planetary boundaries, this compact book instead offers a spirited explication of what everyone desires: a good life. Fundamental concepts of the good life are explained and explored, as are forces that threaten the good life for all. The remedy, says the book’s seven international authors, lies with the concept of consumption corridors, enabled by mechanisms of citizen engagement and deliberative democracy.

Across five concise chapters, readers are invited into conversation about how wellbeing can be enriched by social change that joins "needs satisfaction" with consumerist restraint, social justice, and environmental sustainability. In this endeavour, lower limits of consumption that ensure minimal needs satisfaction for all are important, and enjoy ample precedent. But upper limits to consumption, argue the authors, are equally essential, and attainable, especially in those domains where limits enhance rather than undermine essential freedoms.

This book will be of great interest to students and scholars in the social sciences and humanities, and environmental and sustainability studies, as well as to community activists and the general public.

The Open Access version of this book, available at, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.


Table of Contents

1. Living Well Within Limits

2. Our Vision: The Good Life

But what is a good life?

Focusing on needs

Slipping through our fingers

Can we be responsible for a good life for others?

3. Consumption Corridors as a Vehicle to Pursue the Good Life

The idea

Limits are already out there

What kind of processes are needed?

Getting started and building momentum

4. What’s Stopping Us?

Limits to the salvation potential of technological innovation

Limits to efficiency and markets as solutions

Limits to consumer sovereignty and responsibility

No limits to freedom in democratic societies?

Shedding myths in pursuit of social change

5. Visionary Change: Corridors as a Pathway to the Good Life

Annex 1: Needs

Annex 2: Indicators of Quality of Life

Annex 3: Estimates of upper and lower sustainable limits in floor space


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Doris Fuchs is Chair of International Relations and Sustainable Development at the University of Münster, Germany.

Marlyne Sahakian is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Tobias Gumbert is a Lecturer at the Institute of Political Science, University of Münster, Germany.

Antonietta Di Giulio is a Senior Researcher at the University of Basel, Switzerland.

Michael Maniates is Professor of Social Science (Environmental Studies) at Yale-NUS College, Singapore.

Sylvia Lorek is Chair of the Sustainable Europe Research Institute, Germany, and Adjunct Professor in Consumer Economics at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

Antonia Graf is a Junior Professor of Global Environmental Governance at the University of Münster, Germany.


"This lively, reader-friendly book sets out the case for ‘consumption corridors’ – a novel route to enjoyable but sustainable lives for all of us in the rich world of the 2020s. It makes a compelling – almost obvious – case, clarifies the obstacles, and sketches a practical vision to propel us on the journey to ‘living well within limits’."

Ian Gough, Visiting Professor in CASE and Associate of GRI, London School of Economics, UK

"This book masterfully explains why sustainable limits, in the form of consumption corridors, are a central concept for addressing fundamental issues of justice and power, and to imagine workable pathways to a better future. Too often sustainability remains apolitical and vague: sustainable consumption corridors bring research into the reality we all need to transform."

Julia K. Steinberger, Professor of Societal Challenges of Climate Change, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

"Dominant understandings of sustainability over the past three decades have maintained a resolute fixation on efficiency improvements and individualized strategies of social change. These conceptions have also fetishized technological breakthroughs and underplayed the existence of biophysical limits. By placing sufficiency at the center of transformation, the notion of consumption corridors opens credible and equitable windows of opportunity for system innovation that can meaningfully engage all global citizens."

Maurie J. Cohen, Professor of Sustainability Studies, New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA