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

Social Practices, Intervention and Sustainability

Beyond behaviour change, 1st Edition

Edited by Yolande Strengers, Cecily Maller


208 pages

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Paperback: 9781138693043
pub: 2016-05-09
Hardback: 9780415739634
pub: 2014-11-07
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pub: 2014-11-13
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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.


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

Table of Contents

Introduction Yolande Strengers and Cecily Maller Part 1: Interventions in Theory 1. Practices, governance and sustainability Theodore Schatzki 2. Linking low carbon policy and social practice Elizabeth Shove 3. Beyond individual responsibility: Social practice, capabilities and the right to environmentally sustainable ways of living Gordon Walker Part 2: Intervening through policies and programs 4. Beyond behaviour change: Practical applications of social practice theory in behaviour change programs Yolande Strengers, Susie Moloney, Cecily Maller and Ralph Horne 5. Interventions in practices: Sustainable mobility policies in England Nicola Spurling and Andrew McMeekin 6. Governing and governed by practices: Exploring interventions in low-carbon housing policy and practice Rachel Macrorie, Chris Foulds and Tom Hargreaves 7. Smart grids and the governing of energy use: Reconfiguring practices? Harriet Bulkeley, Gareth Powells, Sandra Bell and Steve Lyon 8. The practices of material divestment: Extending the life of domestic durable goods Andrew Glover Part 3: Innovative interventions 9. Resurrecting sustainable practices: Using memories of the past to intervene in the future Cecily Maller and Yolande Strengers 10. Flow and intervention in everyday life: Situating practices Sarah Pink and Kerstin Leder-Mackley 11. Methods as intervention: Intervening in practice through quantitative and mixed methodologies Alison Browne, Will Medd, Ben Anderson and Martin Pullinger Conclusion: Transforming practice interventions Cecily Maller and Yolande Strengers

About the Editors

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.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Sustainability

Sustainability has become one of the most pressing social, environmental, economic, cultural and political issues of our times. Yet the meaning of ‘sustainability’ remains elusive.

This series provides original insights from across the social sciences and humanities on the meaning and practice of sustainability. It offers both theoretical and practical analysis of ‘sustainability’, including social sustainability, sustainable consumption, democratic sustainability and sustainable behaviour.

These interdisciplinary books give students, researchers, policy makers and practitioners the latest thinking from international authors. This thought-provoking series draws on and is relevant to those working in a wide-range of disciplines, including environment, development, sociology, politics, philosophy, business and marketing, media, geography, and anthropology.

To submit proposals, please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan (

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Environmental Economics
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy