Kennedy, Emily Huddart, Maurie J. Cohen, and Naomi T. Krogman, eds. Putting Sustainability into Practice: Applications and Advances in Research on Sustainable Consumption. Northampton: Edward Elgar, 2015. xviii + 244 pages. Hardcover, $125.00.
For several years I have taught Environment Sociology as part of our Environmental Studies program. This is done within the context of a university--Huston-Tillotson--that has dedicated itself to expanding institutional sustainability practices. As part of my university service I also sit on our Green Board which shares oversight of our Environmental Studies major and sustainability campus initiatives. I hoped that reading Putting Sustainability into Practice: Applications and Advances in Research on Sustainable Consumption would provide me with pedagogical material for the classroom as well as best practices for my campus.
Putting Sustainability into Practice: Applications and Advances in Research on Sustainable Consumption is an eleven-part anthology which combines the work of nineteen authors from a wide array of fields of study and practice including: Anthropology, Business, Change, Economics, Environmental Psychology, Geography, Investment, Labor, Sustainability, and Sociology. The book focuses on social practice theory "to efficaciously enable transitions toward a more sustainable society" (p. xv) and as a means of gaining insight into the way in which "meaningful change is cultivated and constrained" (p. xvi). It challenges readers to look beyond the widely accepted belief that engendering change among individuals will lead to the transformation of collective engagement thereby saving the Earth.
The book begins with an extensive review of the roots and current articulations of social practice theory before moving through a series of empirically based studies which highlight the contributions social practice theory can make to our understanding of and ability to engender sustainable practices. We learn how individuals rally to support activities associated with positive emotions and associations when they are threatened by institutional forces. We see the challenges involved in expanding sustainable practices beyond college-educated professionals. We achieve clarity on the role emotional energy plays in sustainability and the importance of experimental space in facilitating change. We gain insight into the process through which social practices evolve and the role social policy plays as a...