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Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 2232-2252;

The Role of Formal and Informal Forces in Shaping Consumption and Implications for a Sustainable Society. Part I

The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund University, P.O. Box 196, Tegnersplatsen 4, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden
Copenhagen Resource Institute, Højbro Plads 4, DK-1200 Copenhagen, Denmark
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 May 2010 / Revised: 17 June 2010 / Accepted: 7 July 2010 / Published: 16 July 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
PDF [236 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]


Addressing climate change and the collapse of ecosystems without threatening the economy, while simultaneously improving the well-being of all people and ensuring social justice and equality, seems to be the largest challenge in the history of mankind. So far, all the efforts to address growing environmental and human problems through technological solutions and policy measures have been largely outpaced by growing population and increasing consumption levels. Therefore, an understanding of the essential driving forces and complexities of consumption, and of how environmental impacts from rising consumption can be reduced, is becoming increasingly important. This understanding can be achieved by analyzing not only economic frameworks, political settings, business models, and technological innovations, but also social norms, psychological factors, and collective and individual decision-making processes. This article, Part I, provides a meta-analysis of the main political, economic, technological, and business drivers of contemporary consumption and offers a systematic discussion of the relevance of these factors for the instigation of change towards sustainable patterns and levels of consumption. The main conclusion from Part I and II is that a systems-thinking approach is required in order to understand how various political, technical, social, economic, and psychological drivers overlap and influence each other in creating our consumer society. View Full-Text
Keywords: formal institutions; consumption; sustainable consumption formal institutions; consumption; sustainable consumption
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Mont, O.; Power, K. The Role of Formal and Informal Forces in Shaping Consumption and Implications for a Sustainable Society. Part I. Sustainability 2010, 2, 2232-2252.

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