Knowledge for better food systems

How much is enough? Examining the public’s beliefs about consumption

Markovitch EM and Bowerman T (2011). How much is enough? Examining the public’s beliefs about consumption, Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, Vol. 00, No. 0, 2011, pp. 1—23
Markovitch EM and Bowerman T (2011). How much is enough? Examining the public’s beliefs about consumption, Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, Vol. 00, No. 0, 2011, pp. 1—23 Abstract Relatively little public opinion research has explored beliefs about consumption. This lack of research is surprising given the increasing attention paid bymany commentators to the relationship between consumption and ecological sustainability. Reporting on data collected from a series of five statewide surveys of Oregonians conducted between 2008 and 2009, we find that a strong majority (74–88%) of the Oregon public supports reducing consumption and believes doing so would improve societal and individual well-being. These findings appear to challenge conventional wisdom about our collective and never-ending need for consumption of material goods. Our results reveal broad agreement on the consumption issue across traditional ideological divides. We also conducted in-depth qualitative interviews, which allowed us to explore what “consumption” means to Oregonians and why people think our country would be better off if we reduced consumption. Our findings suggest that populist attitudes toward reducing consumption may fill a role that policymakers avoid for a variety of reasons. We discuss the relevance of consumption beliefs to public policy aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as directions for future research.
 

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