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What influences consumption? Consumers and beyond: Purposes, contexts, agents and history

Poças Ribeiro, Ana, Harmsen, Robert, Rosales Carreón, Jesús, Worrell, Ernst
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.209 pp. 200-215
consumer attitudes, consumer economics, consumption (economics), environmental impact, public services and goods
Consumption of goods and services is a complex phenomenon at the root of environmental problems, but it is still often framed in terms of individual behaviour, which can be related to a lack of wide cross-disciplinary explanations for consumption. To contribute to filling this gap, we conducted a literature review across ten disciplines. We provide a cross-disciplinary overview of what influences consumption, juxtaposing dominant with less-heard explanations for consumption and adding cross-disciplinary evidence to counter the view of consumption as a chiefly individual phenomenon. The resulting conceptual framework depicts consumption as influenced by three levels that undergo historical transformations: the micro level of consumers, purposes and products; the meso level of the direct context in which consumption takes place; and the macro level of societal contexts and agents. Future research should investigate which kinds of interactions between levels, agents and contexts can lead to minimising social and environmental impacts of consumption.