Environmental decision-making shaped by the home: Situating consumption in the household

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Department of Social Sciences; College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Research on environmentally consequential human decision-making often begins from the premise that consumption decisions are motivated by individual values. However, we argue that social science research aiming to understand consumer decision-making will benefit from integrating the lived experiences of people in households, where decisions are often influenced or mitigated by the presence of those who share homes. Conducting research on consumption decisions regarding household resources revealed the embedded nature of these decisions, which are situated in the context of the socially contingent dynamics of residential life. In this paper, we identify five social dynamic processes that influence consumption within the household: (1) referring, (2) norming, (3) enhancing, (4) constraining, and (5) allocating. These processes, embedded within the dynamic social relationships of the residential household, moderate household resource use in ways that future social science research may strive to better understand.

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Human Ecology Review