Who is represented in community-based sustainable consumption projects, and why does it matter? A constructively critical approach

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Since the 2000s, scholars and practitioners have located “community” as a site of volunteer-based collective action capable of supporting and promoting sustainable consumption. More recently, a growing literature has articulated a constructive critique of such initiatives. Specifically, this literature has noted that community-based voluntary civic engagement does not necessarily advance inclusion and democracy, and that issues of representation emerge as unintended outcomes of this form of collective action. In this paper, we explore the issue of representation in community-based sustainable consumption projects through case studies from the UK, Canada, and India. We draw on the case studies to examine who is represented in community-based sustainable consumption projects and how membership composition is associated with group goals, decision-making procedures, and distributive outcomes. We find that questions of who gets to take part (and who is excluded) and whom these projects represent are rarely raised, and that this silence produces both a democratic deficit and a particularly exclusive and middle-class form of green politics. With a view to being constructively critical, we explore how these issues of representation might be overcome and what scope there is for addressing such issues through community-based initiatives to realize visions of sustainable consumption that are inclusive.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationPower, Politics and Ideology in Sustainable Consumption Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Biology

Cite this