Social Practices, Intervention and Sustainability : Beyond behaviour change book cover
1st Edition

Social Practices, Intervention and Sustainability
Beyond behaviour change

ISBN 9780415739634
Published November 26, 2014 by Routledge
222 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In an era of dramatic environmental change, social change is desperately needed to curb burgeoning consumption. Many calls to action have focused on individual behaviour or technological innovation, with relative silence from the social sciences on other modes and methods of intervening in social life. This book shows how we can go beyond behaviour change in the pursuit of sustainability.

Inspired by the ‘practice turn’ in consumption studies, this interdisciplinary book looks through the lens of social practice theory to explore important and timely questions about how to intervene in social life. It discusses a range of applied sustainability topics including energy consumption, housing provision, water demand, transport, climate change, curbside recycling and smart grids, seeking to redefine what intervention is, how it happens, and who or what can intervene to address the growing list of environmental calamities facing contemporary societies. These issues are explored through a range of specific case studies from Australia, the UK and the US, providing theoretical insights that are of international relevance.

The book will be of interest to researchers and students in the fields of sociology, consumption studies, environmental studies, geography, and science and technology studies, as well as policy makers and practitioners seeking to intervene in social life for sustainability.

Table of Contents

Introduction  Part 1: Interventions in Theory  1. Practices, governance and sustainability  2. Linking low carbon policy and social practice  3. Beyond individual responsibility: Social practice, capabilities and the right to environmentally sustainable ways of living  Part 2: Intervening through policies and programs  4. Beyond behaviour change: Practical applications of social practice theory in behaviour change programs  5. Interventions in practices: Sustainable mobility policies in England  6. Governing and governed by practices: Exploring interventions in low-carbon housing policy and practice  7. Smart grids and the governing of energy use: Reconfiguring practices?  8. The practices of material divestment: Extending the life of domestic durable goods  Part 3: Innovative interventions  9. Resurrecting sustainable practices: Using memories of the past to intervene in the future  10. Flow and intervention in everyday life: Situating practices  11. Methods as intervention: Intervening in practice through quantitative and mixed methodologies  Conclusion: Transforming practice interventions

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Yolande Strengers is a Senior Lecturer at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia and co-leader of the Beyond Behaviour Change Research Program in the Centre for Urban Research.

Cecily Maller is a Senior Research Fellow at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia and co-leader of the Beyond Behaviour Change Research Program in the Centre for Urban Research.


This book brings together thinkers at the forefront of applying practice theory to the challenges of moving society towards sustainability. It not only consolidates practice theory’s critique of conventional approaches to changing what people do, but points towards alternative ways of thinking through how change can be effected.

Matt Watson, University of Sheffield, UK

How can practices be made, unmade or retrieved from dormancy to help us shift towards sustainability? How can social practice scholarship help rethink intervention in policy and governance? Bringing together provocative discussions from established and emerging voices, this book itself makes a decisive intervention in our responses to the climate change challenge.

Lesley Head, University of Wollongong, Australia

A profoundly important book. Playing politics with methods and social practice theory, this book challenges conventional sustainability discourse based on individuals’ behavioural change. It convincingly demonstrates different pathways for analysis and alternative avenues for intervention, governance and change.

Mika Pantzar, Helsinki University, Finland