Lifestyle change that matters: Introducing an ethics-as-politics approach to social change of consumer society in a Danish urban context

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Lunds universitet/LUCSUS

Sammanfattning: Climate change is real and imminent, and mitigation and adaptation responses are vital and urgent. Denmark is renowned for its aspirations for sustainability and concerns in that regard, especially among its citizenry. Nevertheless, high-impact lifestyles persist which put an excessive pressure on the global climate system and expose a tension between pro-environmental dispositions and actual consumption practices in Danish society. This thesis contend that part of the problem lies in ethical foundations for lifestyle consumption. Citizen-consumer perspectives on sustainability, consumption and the good life is explored through a series of interviews. A critical discourse analysis (CDA) is applied to give existential depth and social width to these perspectives. The CDA amounts to a conceptual framework or an ethics-as-politics formula, which is an ethical understanding of the current discourse practice and an ideological social practice of sustainable lifestyles in a Danish urban context. The formula is both a way of formulating a reduced consumption lifestyle as a livable alternative and a springboard for framing the systemic relevance of lifestyles. This means the formula develops the theoretical grounds for comprehending sustainable lifestyles as 1) an alternative way of living well in (post)consumer society, and 2) a public sphere activity for reduced consumption and transformation of social structures that script for overconsumption and environmental degradation. The point is that 1) and 2) merge so that changing yourself coincide with practices that change society. Inner transformation, which according to this view in light of climate change is the generation of personal wellbeing from realization of one’s underdetermined social and moral responsibility, coincides with collective action for structural change. The ethics-as-politics formula is a platform for further research that seek to meet people where they are and begin there with fostering sustainable lifestyles for social change of consumer society. As such, it can be used as a practice and transition theory approach with focus on ethical foundations for daily life practices in affluent consumer societies. Introducing an ethics-as-politics approach into sustainability science means developing a conceptual tool for evaluating ethical life foundations, as mentioned. But most importantly, it is a tool for evaluating sustainability scientist’ flair for formulating solutions for sustainable lifestyle chance that matter in a dual sense: to people because they have existential and social value, and to the environment because they are substantial contributions to transformative change of consumer society.

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