‘Surely I would have preferred to clear it away in the right manner’: When social norms interfere with the practice of waste sorting: A case study

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Waste sorting is part of the transition to circular and sustainable economies, and households play an important role. This paper is based on qualitative studies with 12 Danish households and reveals that sorting has become part of everyday life practice. However, in certain situations, which comprise the empirical focus of this analysis, participants set aside their well-established sorting practices. They do so despite their belief that sorting is the proper way to discard waste. Rather than approaching this as a value-action gap in individual behaviour, we turn our attention to the socio-material surroundings and how these condition waste practices. The analysed empirical situations are social gatherings of different kinds. Approaching them as critical incidents, we evince how participants' perception of these situations and especially the associated norms orchestrating social interactions obstruct their normal principles and practices of sorting. This obstruction is depicted as the outcome of a situated negotiation between an ‘ethic of sorting’ and an ‘ethic of care’ related to personal relationships. We propose that the latter is likely to conflict with more types of sustainable consumption practices in a wider range of situations. Hence, the paper suggests an avenue for further research on how cultural norms connected to the way we care for our relationships may more generally be breaking the transition of everyday life practices towards more sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100036
JournalCleaner and Responsible Consumption
Volume3
Issue numberDecember 2021
ISSN2666-7843
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Household waste sorting
  • Practice theory
  • Ethics of care
  • Social norms
  • Sustainable everyday practices
  • Social relations

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of '‘Surely I would have preferred to clear it away in the right manner’: When social norms interfere with the practice of waste sorting: A case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this