Evans, D. & Abrahamse, W. (2009) 'Beyond rhetoric: the possibilities of and for 'sustainable lifestyles'', Environmental Politics, 18(4), pp. 486-502.


Discourses of ‘sustainable lifestyles’ and ‘lifestyle change’ are becoming ubiquitous in media, comment and environmental policy, but there is ambiguity about what this means and entails. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork exploring ‘sustainable lifestyles’ from the perspective of persons who identify themselves as living, or attempting to live, in more sustainable and/or environmentally friendly ways, the tensions, constraints, rewards and opportunities detailed in respondents’ narratives are described. ‘Sustainable lifestyles’ are far more complex than the rhetoric would suggest. They need to be understood in relation to wider social and cultural processes. ‘Structural changes’ to enable ‘lifestyle choices’ that are conducive to sustainability are needed, but it is important to look beyond ‘sustainability’ (however defined) and appeal to other agendas and identities in order to motivate pro-environmental behaviour.

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