Practicing Sustainability
: The Role of Consumer Competence

  • Cristina Longo

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis contributes to the conceptualisation of consumer competence in the context of pursuing a sustainable consumption lifestyle. It overcomes the limitations of decision-making perspectives, which conceive sustainable consumption as a problem solving exercise based on possessing the relevant information. Drawing on the findings from an investigation into the nature of the competence mobilised by consumers who are committed to the sustainability agenda, a more comprehensive formulation of the concept of competence is advanced. More specifically, competence, as a result of the study, is framed in light of its multifaceted and dynamic nature as well as being a tool mobilised by consumers when attempting to lead their desired life projects. It emerges that they combine three complementary dimensions of consumer competence in varying configurations to pursue their sustainability goals according to their lived experience. First, they judge the marketplace by evaluating product offers and the functioning of the market. Second, they use their abilities to shape the marketplace by employing craftsmanship skills so as to become producers of their own consumption. Third, they mobilise their resources towards the accomplishment of their sustainability objectives. However, it is also elicited that competence has a reverse side that can be counterproductive for the performance of consumption practices, including indecision brought on by information overload and consumers living with the unhappy acknowledgement that they do not always live up to their sustainability ideals.
Date of Award10 Dec 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAvi Shankar (Supervisor) & Peter Nuttall (Supervisor)

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