Re-introducing consumption to the 'circular economy': A sociotechnical analysis of domestic food provisioning

Josephine Mylan*, Helen Holmes, Jessica Paddock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
239 Downloads (Pure)


The paper makes two contributions to the advancement of the 'circular economy' as a blueprint for a more sustainable society. The first is to highlight the importance of understanding the dynamics of consumption and waste in the domestic sphere. The second is to illustrate two ways in which using insights from socio-technical literature on sustainable consumption, in combination with the sociology of food, could contribute to redressing this shortfall. This includes understanding why people use or consume particular goods or services, and how this might be altered; and what drives the production of waste and the adoption of strategies for its reduction by consumers. We mobilise insights from a socio-technical perspective on consumption, which highlights the importance of everyday interactions between routine activities, mundane technologies and cultural meanings in (re)producing patterns of consumption. These insights are illustrated with reference to domestic food provisioning, using empirical data generated through twenty semi-structured interviews with consumers in relation to meat consumption and thriftiness. Two suggestions for the development of the 'circular economy' to better take account of consumption within the domestic sphere are made. The first is a shift from imagining consumers as 'users' of particular products or services, to conceptualisation as 'doers' of everyday activities. The second is a broadening of the principle of 'eco-effectiveness' to take account for the social value of consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Article number794
Number of pages14
Issue number8
Early online date12 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2016


  • Circular economy
  • Consumption
  • Food
  • Food waste
  • Meat
  • Social practice
  • Sociology of food
  • Thrift


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