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Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 794; doi:10.3390/su8080794

Re-Introducing Consumption to the ‘Circular Economy’: A Sociotechnical Analysis of Domestic Food Provisioning

Sustainable Consumption Institute, The University of Manchester, 188 Waterloo Place, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 30 April 2016 / Revised: 15 July 2016 / Accepted: 4 August 2016 / Published: 12 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [218 KB, uploaded 12 August 2016]


The paper makes two contributions to the advancement of the ‘circular economy’ as a blueprint for a more sustainable society. The first is to highlight the importance of understanding the dynamics of consumption and waste in the domestic sphere. The second is to illustrate two ways in which using insights from socio-technical literature on sustainable consumption, in combination with the sociology of food, could contribute to redressing this shortfall. This includes understanding why people use or consume particular goods or services, and how this might be altered; and what drives the production of waste and the adoption of strategies for its reduction by consumers. We mobilise insights from a socio-technical perspective on consumption, which highlights the importance of everyday interactions between routine activities, mundane technologies and cultural meanings in (re)producing patterns of consumption. These insights are illustrated with reference to domestic food provisioning, using empirical data generated through twenty semi-structured interviews with consumers in relation to meat consumption and thriftiness. Two suggestions for the development of the ‘circular economy’ to better take account of consumption within the domestic sphere are made. The first is a shift from imagining consumers as ‘users’ of particular products or services, to conceptualisation as ‘doers’ of everyday activities. The second is a broadening of the principle of ‘eco-effectiveness’ to take account for the social value of consumption. View Full-Text
Keywords: circular economy; food; consumption; sociology of food; social practice; meat; thrift; food waste circular economy; food; consumption; sociology of food; social practice; meat; thrift; food waste
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Mylan, J.; Holmes, H.; Paddock, J. Re-Introducing Consumption to the ‘Circular Economy’: A Sociotechnical Analysis of Domestic Food Provisioning. Sustainability 2016, 8, 794.

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