“These Grandmas Drove Me Mad. It Was Brilliant!”—Promising Starting Points to Support Citizen Competence for Sustainable Consumption in Adults
1.1. Why It Makes Sense to Distinguish Citizen Competence from Consumer Competence
1.2. What Citizen Competence with a View to Sustainable Consumption Is about
1.2.1. Specifics of Societal Decision-Making in the Field of Sustainable Consumption
1.2.2. Citizen Competence in the Context of Sustainable Consumption and Corresponding Educational Offerings
2. Design of the Educational Intervention (EdIn)
2.1. Specified Goals and Guiding Principles of EdIn
2.2. Core Messages and Stimuli of EdIn-GL and EdIn-NR
2.2.1. The Core Messages to Convey in EdIn-GL and the Stimuli in EdIn-GL
- Statement 1: Humans do not want to consume energy. Rather, they want to satisfy needs and desires that specify their conceptions of a life they value, and the acts of consumption they perform serve the purpose of satisfying these needs and desires. Thus, consumption of energy is not an end in itself but a means to achieve specific purposes.
- Statement 2: What individuals want (ends in themselves) has to be distinguished from the means they adopt to achieve these ends. With regard to the means, the acts individuals perform in order to satisfy their needs and desires must be distinguished from the consumer goods (products, infrastructures, services) they use in performing these actions.
- Statement 3: Quite often, individuals can satisfy their needs and desires by different means, that is, they can satisfy a specific need or desire by other means (other acts or other consumer goods) without impairing their quality of life.
- Statement 4: Relevant to energy are not the needs and desires of individuals (the purposes), but the acts they perform in order to satisfy them, and the consumer goods they use in performing these actions, and these means, in turn, differ with regard to their relevance to energy. To assess this relevance, not an entire and connected chain of acts of consumption has to be assessed, but the single acts within this chain.
- Statement 5: Individual conceptions of a good life differ, but looking at the ends themselves instead of looking at the means reveals that, possibly, some of these ends are universals (making it necessary to distinguish universal needs from not universal desires).
- Statement 6: The starting point to distinguish means from ends in themselves and to identify means being relevant to energy should be universal human needs.
- Statement 7: The goal of sustainability is to ensure that each and every human being living now or in the future has the possibility of living a life he/she values. For this reason, reflecting on energy policy must always encompass reflecting on the quality of life we want to provide for humans living at the same place we do, for those living in other places, for those living now, and for those living in the future. Thus, it is necessary to consider how present individual and collective acts impact the possibility of others to lead a life they value.
2.2.2. The Core Messages to Convey in EdIn-NR and the Stimuli in EdIn-NR
- Statement 1: With a view to the pollution and to other forms of damage to natural resources and to the environment as well as to the overuse of natural resources, not only the energy use matters but also the energy source. Different energy sources such as fossil or nuclear sources differ with regard to their environmental impact, both at the place where the energy is produced and at the place where the energy is consumed. Because of this, discussions around energy have to consider the environmental impacts caused by the energy source and the transportation of energy as well.
- Statement 2: With a view to a sound discussion around energy, grey energy (embodied energy, hidden energy) is as important to consider as the direct and operational (visible) energy use.
- Statement 3: The energy use requires more environmental goods and natural resources than those that are used directly in the production of energy (in a narrow sense) and those that are used in the production of consumer goods (products, infrastructures, services). This encompasses both the use of environmental goods and natural resources as well as their pollution. These rather diverse impacts on environmental goods and natural resources all have to be taken into account when reflecting about energy and energy policy.
- Statement 4: Producing renewable energy is not neutral with regard to its environmental impacts. That is, the production of renewable energy uses and impairs environmental goods and natural resources as well.
2.3. Structure of EdIn
3. Methods Applied in Analysing the Data
3.1. Recruitment of Participants and Sample
3.2. Data Analysis
- Approach 1 focused on the cognitive structure of the deliberations, that is, on how the discussions evolved in terms of the issues that were raised, the arguments that were developed, and the topics that were taken up or not during the discussions (analysed data: Part 1 discussions, part 2 presentations (transcripts and cards), part 2 discussions).
- Approach 2 focused on the participants’ perception of EdIn, that is, on how they experienced the setting and the discussions and on what they had, according to their own perception, learned (analysed data: Answers to feedback questions at the end of EdIn and during the second round of interviews).
- Approach 3 focused on the participants’ reaction to EdIn, that is, on how they reacted to the stimuli and the discussions in terms of the kinds of individual knowledge/concepts and values/concerns they voiced (analysed data: Part 1 discussions, part 2 presentations (transcripts), part 2 discussions).
3.2.1. Approach 1—Analysing the Cognitive Structure
Part 1: Discussion I and Discussion II
Part 2: Application of the Perspective GL (EdIn-GL) or NR (EdIn-NR) to Energy Policy
3.2.2. Approach 2—Analysing the Participants’ Perception
3.2.3. Approach 3—Analysing the Participants’ Reaction
4.1. The Cognitive Structure
4.1.1. Part 1: Discussion I and Discussion II
The Cognitive Structure in Part 1 of EdIn-GL
The Cognitive Structure in Part 1 of EdIn-NR
4.1.2. Part 2: Application of the Perspective GL (EdIn-GL) or NR (EdIn-NR) to Energy Policy
The Cognitive Structure in Part 2 of EdIn: Presentations of the Working Groups’ Results
The Cognitive Structure in Part 2 of EdIn: Overarching Discussions about Energy Policy
4.2. Participants’ Perception
4.3. Participants’ Reaction
5.1. Investigating Effects of Educational Activities
5.2. Does the Design We Developed for EdIn Work? What Can Be Achieved by Such an Educational Offering?
- Individuals must be willing and able to engage in a deliberation aiming at developing policy options and achieving consensus.
- Individuals must be willing and able to engage in individual, mutual, and collective processes of learning and reflection, that is, to acquire new information, to collectively integrate knowledge, to understand and compare perspectives, to question both their own perspective and that of others, and to revise their own (pre)conceptions and broaden their perspective.
- Individuals must be willing and able to become involved and to take on responsibility, to move beyond their individual interest and toward the common good.
5.2.1. Engaging in a Deliberation Aiming at Developing Policy Options and Achieving Consensus
5.2.2. Engaging in Individual, Mutual, and Collective Processes of Learning and Reflection
5.2.3. Becoming Involved and Taking on Responsibility, Moving Beyond the Own Individual Interest, and Moving toward the Common Good
5.2.4. Limitations of Our Study
5.3. How to Approach Energy Policy in Educational Activities That Aim at Supporting Citizen Competence: By Focusing on the Content of Natural Resources or by Focusing on the Content of Good Life?
5.4. Does It Make Sense to Offer Such Educational Activities or Is It Even Necessary to Do So?
Conflicts of Interest
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|Duration||Content and Didactics|
|10’||Arrival of participants and welcome|
The participants and the facilitators introduced themselves by explaining their choice of image.
|60’||Part 1||Presentation I and discussion I|
Presentation I (10’)
In EdIn-GL, the presentation covered premise 1, statements 1–4 and stimulus 1.
In EdIn-NR, the presentation covered statements 1–2 and stimulus 1.
|Discussion of presentation I (20’)|
The participants were asked an initiating question they discussed in pairs. The reports by these groups informed the subsequent discussion in the plenary.
|Presentation II and discussion II|
Presentation II (10’)
In EdIn-GL, the presentation covered premise 2, statements 5–7, and stimulus 2.
In EdIn-NR, the presentation covered statements 3–4 and stimulus 2.
|Discussion of presentation II (20’)|
The participants were asked an initiating question they discussed in the plenary.
|85’||Part 2||Application of the perspective GL (EdIn-GL) or NR (EdIn-NR) to energy policy|
Working groups (45’)
The participants were provided with a list of six energy policy measures (each described in 2–3 sentences). They were asked to, firstly, identify measures they found particularly convincing (or particularly unconvincing) against the background of what had been presented and discussed before coffee break and, secondly, to name the criteria they had used in this selection.
|Presentation of working groups’ results and discussion (40’)|
In a first step, the working groups presented their results, and these results led, in a second step, to an overarching discussion about energy policy.
The participants were asked what they had found more or less interesting, what should be changed and what should be retained. They answered in the plenary, but no-one was forced to answer the question.
|20’||Closure (drinks and snacks)|
|Gender||Age||Educational Level||Place of Residence|
|Men||24 (50%)||20–39||16 (33%)||ISCED 0–2||10 (21%)||Country||13 (27%)|
|Women||24 (50%)||40–64||21 (44%)||ISCED 3–5(6)||23 (48%)||Urban||27 (56%)|
|65 upwards||11 (23%)||ISCED 6–8||15 (31%)||Town (>70’000)||8 (16%)|
|Gender||Age||Educational Level||Place of Residence|
|65 upwards||3||ISCED 6–8||7||Town (>70’000)||7|
|Tagging Categories||Tagging Rules|
|Affirmation||Content is an explicit affirmation (or a repetition) of a previously uttered content by the same person.|
|Answer/reaction||Content is clearly an answer to a question asked or an objection raised.|
|Application own life||Experiences and examples taken from the own life (“I”, my family, my housing estate etc.).|
|Application generalised||‘Abstract’ examples (human beings, people in Switzerland, “we”, one does etc.).|
|Broadening||Content is an explicit broadening of a previous content.|
|Broadening focus||Content broadens the focal content of the EdIn-perspective (good life in EdIn-GL, natural resources in EdIn-NR) by introducing an aspect that according to an expert’s opinion does not directly relate to this focus.|
|Conclusion||Content is a conclusion drawn from previous statements.|
|Confirmation||Content explicitly confirms a statement, a further consideration, a conclusion etc. uttered by another person (in case of doubt, that is, in cases where a statement is similar to a previous but without explicitly referring to this previous statement, the new statement is not tagged as confirmation but tagged as “bis”).|
|Correction/objection||Content is an explicit correction or objection to a previous statement.|
|Further consideration (FuC)||Content is, according to an expert’s opinion, a consideration carrying forward, by advancing either the content of the moderators’ presentation or other contents that have been uttered until then. Content is tagged as further consideration only if it represents a coherent and meaningful further development of the focal content of the EdIn-perspective (good life in EdIn-GL, natural resources in EdIn-NR), that is, if it is in line with this focus (otherwise the content is a broadening of the focus, even if it comprehensibly/meaningfully draws on preceding contents).|
|Query||Content is an explicit query about something that has been said before.|
|Recourse||Content is an explicit recourse to previous content (e.g., to examples).|
|Tagging Categories||Tagging Rules|
|Criterion||Features used by participants to assess single energy policy measures (or even energy policy taken as a whole), regardless of whether they were explicitly declared as criteria by the participants themselves.|
|Topic||Aggregated description of contents that were discussed by participants but were not directly used to assess policy measures.|
|Discussion||Aggregated description of contents that were discussed by participants either in the context of ventilating and/or applying a criterion or in the context of ventilating a topic.|
|Judgement||Aggregated description of opinions by participants that either met with approval or were not contradicted by others about what is the case or should be the case with regard to a specific topic.|
|Measure/indicator||Aggregated denotation of what was used by the participants to assess whether a criterion is met or not.|
|Problem||Aggregated description of facts and circumstances participants classified to be problematic with regard to a topic or with regard to a criterion, regardless of whether these facts and circumstances are accurate.|
|Question||Aggregated denotation of real questions that were raised in discussing a criterion, a topic, a specific policy measure, regardless of whether a question deals with factual issues (what is the case?) or with issues of evaluation (how should something be valued?).|
|Energy policy||Statements in which something about energy policy (or policy, politics in general) is said.|
|Feeling approached||Statements in which something is said about how someone felt approached with his/her background and perspective either in advance (by the invitation) or during EdIn. Statements in which something is said about how someone estimates that others felt or would feel approached by EdIn.|
|Atmosphere||Statements in which something about the working and discussing atmosphere during EdIn is said.|
|Group composition||Statements in which something about the group composition is said.|
|Setting/focus||Statements in which something about the setting, the didactics and/or the focus of EdIn is said.|
|Individual learning effect||Statements in which something is said about EdIn having changed someone’s way of thinking or about other individual changes induced by EdIn.|
|(Anticipated potential) Behavioural impact||Statements in which something is said about EdIn having (actually or potentially) impacted someone’s acts.|
|Individual motivation||Statements in which something is said about someone’s motivation to attend EdIn and to partake actively in the discussions. Statements in which it is said that someone found it interesting, exciting (or similar) without indicating a learning effect.|
|Categories||Coding Rules and Examples|
|Approaching topic by voicing values||Statements in which something is said about what someone thinks is important, good or bad or about the criteria to be used in taking decisions.|
|Assessing acts||Statements valuing a specific behaviour as good or bad.|
“I think that taking four flights per year is untenable and completely unjustified.” (EdIn-GL/162)
|Ascribing values||Environment-related values||Statements ascribing a value to a specific issue/fact/idea because this issue/fact/idea is described to be valuable with a view to the natural environment and/or statements in which environment-related values are the object of reflection.|
“I think, the damage one brings about to the entire environment with producing energy is extremely important. This is an important aspect.” (EdIn-GL/116)
|Human-related values||Statements ascribing a value to a specific issue/fact/idea because this issue/fact/idea is described to be valuable with a view to humans and/or statements in which human-related values are the object of reflection.|
“But, actually, it would be much more just to oblige all homeowners to do that.” (EdIn-NR/46)
|Approaching topic by describing phenomena||Statements in which something is said about what is the case (with the participant, with others, in society). These can be direct observations or considerations of how a phenomenon manifests itself.|
|Describing phenomena||Societal human-environment relationship||Statements in which the societal human-environment relationship is described (incl. statements saying that human behaviour impairs the environment).|
“And yes, in producing wind power those living creatures are impaired that lose their sense of orientation, that are disturbed in their flying or migratory behaviour, and in the production of hydropower it is the fishes that are affected.” (EdIn-NR/116)
|Own consumer behaviour||Statements in which the own consumer behaviour is described (of the individual and/or the household).|
“And because I have everything all the time at my disposal I use considerably more than is really justified by my needs.” (EdIn-GL/25)
|Consumer behaviour in society||Statements in which the consumer behaviour in society is described (in general or of specific societal groups).|
“I don’t know. They have experienced other times. Older people turn off the light in a room much more, each time they leave the room thy make ‘click, click’.” (EdIn-NR/70)
|Approaching topic by reflecting about how change can/should be induced||Statements in which something is said about possibilities and starting points to induce change, about how change should be enacted, about the effectiveness of measures or about the effects of specific measures.|
|Reflections about how change can/should be induced||Changing the own consumer behaviour||Statements about possibilities of changing the own consumer behaviour (of the individual and/or the household) and/or about the effects of changing this behaviour.|
“We simply see that we have some leeway. To be precise, I think we have, seen relatively, considerable leeway in choosing the means. The car may serve as an example.” (EdIn-GL/18)
|Societal steering of consumer behaviour||Statements about possibilities of changing the consumer behaviour in society (in general or of specific societal groups) and/or about the effects of changing this behaviour.|
“I have a feeling that if the infrastructure were better, if it would at least be approximately adequate, many individuals would feel safer und switch to biking.” (EdIn-GL/265)
|Technical solutions||Statements about technological possibilities to enact change.|
“Actually, we nowadays invest too much grey energy in a house. We really should start thinking about good energy. Because instead of insulating that much, at some point it becomes … if a house has that much insulation I ask myself whether this is sustainable any more.” (EdIn-NR/183)
|Processes of policy-making||Statements about what must be considered, or causes difficulties, in the design and enacting of policy-making processes (in general or with a view to policy measures).|
“But tell that to someone, and the immediate reaction is ‘And the noise and the birds and the disfigurement of the landscape and …’. But just tell me, how on earth this can be solved.” (EdIn-NR/114)
|Criteria developed and used by the working groups|
|Criteria used in the discussion|
|Topics raised in the discussion|
|EdIn-GL||Both EdIn-GL and EdIn-NR||EdIn-NR|
|Individual learning effect|
|(Anticipated potential) Behavioural impact|
|Part 1 of EdIn||Part 2 of EdIn|
|Discussions after Presentations by Moderators||Presentations of the Working Groups’ Results||Overarching Discussions about Energy Policy|
|Voicing values||Assessing acts||X||X|
|Ascribing environment-related values||X||X||X||X|
|Ascribing human-related values||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Describing phenomena||Societal human-environment relationship||X||X|
|Own consumer behaviour||X||X||X|
|Consumer behaviour in society||X||X||X||X|
|Reflecting about how change can/should be induced||Changing the own consumer behaviour||X||X||X||X|
|Societal steering of consumer behaviour||X||X||X||X||X|
|Processes of policy-making||X||X||X||X||X||X|
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Di Giulio, A.; Ruesch Schweizer, C.; Defila, R.; Hirsch, P.; Burkhardt-Holm, P. “These Grandmas Drove Me Mad. It Was Brilliant!”—Promising Starting Points to Support Citizen Competence for Sustainable Consumption in Adults. Sustainability 2019, 11, 681. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030681
Di Giulio A, Ruesch Schweizer C, Defila R, Hirsch P, Burkhardt-Holm P. “These Grandmas Drove Me Mad. It Was Brilliant!”—Promising Starting Points to Support Citizen Competence for Sustainable Consumption in Adults. Sustainability. 2019; 11(3):681. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030681Chicago/Turabian Style
Di Giulio, Antonietta, Corinne Ruesch Schweizer, Rico Defila, Philipp Hirsch, and Patricia Burkhardt-Holm. 2019. "“These Grandmas Drove Me Mad. It Was Brilliant!”—Promising Starting Points to Support Citizen Competence for Sustainable Consumption in Adults" Sustainability 11, no. 3: 681. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030681