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Sustainable Consumption Communication: A Review of an Emerging Field of Research

1 June 2021

Source: Journal of Cleaner Production

Authors: Fischer, Daniel; Reinermann, Julia-Lena; Mandujano, Georgina Guillen; DesRoches, C. Tyler; Diddi, Sonali; Vergragt, Philip J.


In a newly published open access paper, members of the KAN SSCP working group “communication” review sustainable consumption communication as a field of research. Analyzing 67 papers, we describe 4 types of SCC research that conceptualize and relate sustainable consumption and communication very differently.

The 4 types are (1) behavior change, (2) self-empowerment, (3) systems change, & (4) communication constructions – they differ with regard to their communication modes (transmissive, interactional, deconstructive), routes of change (low vs. high reflexivity), and units of change (individual vs. collective).

Overall, we found that an instrumental focus on incremental behavior change (“weak” sustainable consumption) dominates the current literature, with one-way business-to-consumer communication as the most prevalent form. We suggest ways in which the use of communication for deliberation & systemic change can be expanded in future research efforts.

The paper aims to contribute to reducing the strong fragmentation in sustainable consumption communication research, so that we can learn more from each other across the different communities doing SCC research.

Daniel Fischer (lead author), on behalf of co-authors Julia Lena Reinermann, Georgina Guillén-Hanson, C. Tyler DesRoches, Sonali Diddi & Philip J Vergragt.