Despite growing media attention, countless political target agreements and massive investments in renewable energies and other climate-friendly technologies, the major socio-ecological crises are progressing almost unremittingly. It is becoming increasingly clear that the efforts made so far, which have focused primarily on technical solutions, are not sufficient and that a more profound socio-ecological transformation is needed. Increasingly, the sustainability strategy of sufficiency is being described in scientific and civil society debates as a relevant and hitherto largely neglected component of a socio-ecological transformation. Sufficiency is a strategy that aims to reduce consumption and production levels in absolute terms - while ensuring a minimum standard - through changes in social practices and corresponding political framework conditions. Therefore, the sufficiency strategy is also discredited by critics as "renunciation" and is considered politically sensitive in a growth-oriented society.
In order to contribute to a critical reflection on the potentials of the sufficiency strategy, the intended doctorate deals with the implementation processes and effects of sufficiency policy. The focus lies on sufficiency policy, as it is assumed that a reduction of production and consumption levels as well as a change of social practices is not possible without cultural, infrastructural and institutional changes. Roughly, the paper is divided into four parts. At the beginning there is conceptual work on the notion of sufficiency. The second part deals with questions of legitimacy and the connectivity of sufficiency. The third part focuses on the implementation processes of concrete sufficiency policy measures at the municipal level and examines them in particular with regard to the conflicts that arise and the approaches chosen by the administrations. In the fourth part of the study, sufficiency policy measures are evaluated in terms of their ecological, social and societal effects.
Jonas Lage is a research associate at the Nobert Elias Center for Transformation Design and Research at the European University of Flensburg and is doing his doctorate as part of the BMBF junior research group „Die Rolle von Energiesuffizienz in Energiewende und Gesellschaft (EnSu)“. In addition, Jonas Lage is an educational speaker and author as part of the I.L.A.-Kollektiv.
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Climate activism has received little attention in research on young people's consumer habits. My research focuses on practices of environmental sustainability, particularly sufficiency and consistency strategies.
Sufficiency strategies include switching to environmentally friendly alternatives, such as bartering, borrowing, or second-hand purchases, and avoiding consumption. Consistency strategies in sustainable consumption aim to purchase durable and environmentally friendly products, such as organic food.
I focus on young people because they are still less established or routinized in their consumption practices than older people. The doctorate aims to investigate sustainable consumption as a social practice in the context of young people's engagement in climate justice movements. To this end, I conducted interviews with young people with varying degrees of involvement in "Fridays for Future" as part of the research project "Trans4mation-Fridays for Future" at the Nürtingen University of Applied Sciences and participated in the implementation of a representative quantitative study in which young people in Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany were interviewed about sustainable consumption behavior, their view of the social relationship to nature, and their attitudes toward capitalism.
My analyses so far suggest that young people engaged in the climate justice movement are also strongly engaged in alternative consumption practices and practice nonconsumption, although they mostly reject a solution to the climate crisis through individual efforts such as political consumption and consider it unworkable. This clearly distinguishes them from other adolescents who consider sustainable consumption practices more relevant in solving the climate catastrophe, but on the contrary, use such practices less often than the activists. My dissertation focuses on sociological explanations for this phenomenon, drawing in particular on the theoretical approaches of Pierre Bourdieu and Norbert Elias.