Sustainable Practices Research Group

The Sustainable Practices Research Group (SPRG) was a programme of research conducted between 2010 and 2014, involving a consortium of seven Universities led by Dale Southeron and Andrew McMeekin. Funded by the Economic & Social Research Council, the Scottish Government and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, SPRG delivered a programme of research that examined the persistent and emerging cultural conventions and social, infrastructural and institutional processes that shape everyday practices. It developed a distinctive approach, focusing on social practices and how they evolve over time. Practices can be understood as habits which people share, such as the school run or regular meal times, and are shaped by cultural norms, regulations, technologies and infrastructures. The research sought to answer three key questions:

                    How and why do practices persist or disappear?

                    How and why do new practices emerge and spread?

                    How can more sustainable practices be encouraged?

The research programme involved seven research projects examined the importance of collective understandings, routines and habits, and the material and social circumstances which constrain practices. It delivered fresh insights and perspectives on the societal challenges presented by sustainability and how they can be tackled. The projects were (please click for summaries of project findings):

1. Changing Eating Habits: An International Comparison

2. 'Drinking Water' and Water Drinking

3. Keeping Cool

4. Patterns of Water Consumption

5. Zero Carbon Living

6. Interventions for Sustainable Practice

7. Engagement, Interaction &  Influence

The SPRG finale event was held on September 11th in London. Sustainability | Social Practices | Policy was attended by an invited audience of over a hundred policy makers, academics, business people and NGOs. The event showcased the SPRG Exhibition as well as a panel discussion with distinguished speakers in the field of policy and sustainability. A summary of SPRG’s key insights was provided, together with an Executive Summary and full report focused on ‘Interventions in practice – re-framing policy approaches to consumer behaviour’. This report developed insights from an earlier piece of work commissioned by the Scottish Government that resulted in the ‘International Review of Behaviour Change Initiatives’.

For a full list of SPRG publications and outputs please visit the ESRC catalogue.

SPRG Members List

Dale Southerton

Andrew McMeekin

Elizabeth Shove

Gordon Walker

Mark Harvey

Ben Anderson

Ralf Brand

Sam Brown

Alison Browne

Sue Chilton

Isabelle Darmon

Adrian Evans

Alex Franklin

Simon Guy

Mike Hodson

George Hutchinson

Andrew Karvonen

Morten Lau

Simon Marvin

Will Medd

Lucie Middlemiss

Joseph Murphy

Julie Newton

Sarah Parry

Martin Pullinger

Graeme Sherriff

Nicola Spurling

Fraser Stewart

Alan Warde

Dan Welch