Reimagining the sustainable consumer: Why social representations of sustainable consumption matter

Urša Golob*, Klement Podnar, Franzisca Weder

*Corresponding author for this work

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Globally, consumers are increasingly turning to sustainable consumption practices. This article emphasizes the importance of social and cultural context in the study of sustainable consumption, drawing on social representations. It attempts to explain and empirically demonstrate how sustainable consumption is socially represented. The aim of the study was to investigate the construction of representations of sustainable consumption as knowledge and its appropriation in relation to the purchase and consumption of food. Online focus groups were employed in a cross-sectional study conducted in Slovenia and Austria. The results of the study not only show how the “global” concept of sustainable consumption is appropriated and reflected in practices in a specific national and cultural context, but also highlight the importance of social representations in terms of how their meanings can influence the emergence of new practices. Furthermore, they show how sustainable consumption can occasionally be seen in actions that precede reflection or exist in a more abstract form unrelated to actions. The results offer several implications for practitioners seeking to promote sustainable consumption.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Business Ethics, the Environment & Responsibility published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • food consumption practices
  • social representations
  • social representations theory
  • sustainable consumption

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