Material Geographies of Household Sustainability

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  • Edited by Ruth Lane, Monash University, Australia and Andrew Gorman-Murray, University of Western Sydney, Australia
  • Charting new research directions, this book constructs a series of imperatives for linking culturally informed research around household sustainability with policy and planning. The household, or 'home', is a critical scale for understanding activities that connect individual behaviours and societal attitudes. The focus on the household in this collection provides a window into the sheer diversity of homemaking and maintenance activities that entail resource use. These practices have affective or emotive dimensions as well as habitual aspects. Diversity, innovation and change at the household scale is often missed in policy approaches which assume that simplistic economic motivations drive demand and this can in turn be 'managed' through regulation or market pricing.

    The research challenge extends beyond describing existing unsustainable economies driving resource intensive behaviour to consider realistic options for transformations in cultural practices, material relationships and, ultimately, the political economies they sit within. Without change in these systems, government initiatives to promote ecological modernisation run the risk of simply green-washing the very economies of consumption that currently drive unsustainable practices. Social and cultural change at the household level is critical to promoting sustainability at a range of wider scales.
  • Contents: Introduction, Ruth Lane and Andrew Gorman-Murray; Part I Contributions of a Cultural Approach to Household Sustainability: Is it easy being green? On the dilemmas of material cultures of household sustainability, Chris Gibson, Gordon Waitt, Lesley Head and Nick Gill; A domestic twist on the eco-efficiency turn: environmentalism, technology, home, Aidan Davison; Sustainability, consumption and the household in developing world contexts, Willem Paling and Tim Winter; Discussion: interrogating the household as a field of sustainability, Gay Hawkins. Part II Domestic Spaces and Material Flows: Beyond McMansions and green homes: thinking household sustainability through materialities of homeyness, Robyn Dowling and Emma Power; Remaking home: the reuse of goods and materials in Australian households, Ralph Horne, Cecily Maller and Ruth Lane; Bottled water practices: reconfiguring drinking in Bangkok households, Gay Hawkins and Kane Race; Discussion: watch where that went – we may need it later: reflections on material flows in and through home, Louise Crabtree. Part III Governance and Citizenship: Mapping geographies of reuse in Sheffield and Melbourne, Matt Watson and Ruth Lane; Build it like you mean it: replicating ethical innovation in physical and institutional design, Louise Crabtree; Rethinking responsibility? Household sustainability in the stakeholder society, Andy Scerri; Environmental politics, green governmentality and the possibility of a 'creative grammar' for domestic sustainable consumption, Kersty Hobson; Discussion: governance and citizenship at home, Aidan Davison; Conclusion: tackling the 'missing scale' in environmental policy, Ruth Lane and Andrew Gorman-Murray; Index.
  • About the Editor: Dr Ruth Lane, Senior Lecturer, Human Dimensions of Envt and Sustainability, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Australia

  • Reviews: 'This important collection brings together cultural studies and human geography to illuminate the critical arena of household sustainability. Demonstrating the diverse ways in which materiality matters to the cultures, practices and governing of domestic spaces, the contributors highlight the importance of taking the home seriously as a site within which sustainability is made, given meaning, and contested. As an antidote to the overly prescriptive accounts of sustainable consumption and individual behaviour, this collection provides important insights into how and why households may be able to act as a critical site in forging more sustainable future. With its novel theoretical contributions and detailed cases, the volume will be of interest to a wide range of students and researchers in the social sciences.'
    Harriet Bulkeley, Durham University, UK

    '… a compelling and indispensable collection. This book, published at a time of increased concern about the human impact on the environment, is thus supremely topical… It will undoubtedly prove of interest to many academics across anthropology, geography, sociology and political science.'
    Housing Studies

    'Material Geographies of Household Sustainability is a professionally presented book that offers important insights into materiality, sustainability and the household, and the existing and potential links between these phenomena… of interest to a range of social science disciplines…' Geographical Research

    '… this book offers an important contribution to geographical engagements with household sustainability, in particular with its determination to take the role of the household seriously in shaping more sustainable futures… Material Geographies of Household Sustainability will be of considerable interest to geography students and scholars alike.'