Going Green: The Process of Lifestyle Change1

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Abstract

This article draws on 40 in-depth semi-structured interviews of three groups of people who restrict their consumption in various ways: voluntary simplifiers, religious environmentalists, and green home owners. I identify common patterns in the emergence of green lifestyles across all groups. Green practices are not isolated decisions or actions, but components in an ongoing project. As a result, green lifestyles are often experienced as both a work in progress and a provisionally coherent life narrative. Furthermore, I explore bricolage, the cobbling together of resources at hand by nonexperts, as a mechanism for lifestyle change and expand the concept to include environmental practices and themes. I adopt a pragmatist perspective to understand lifestyle change as a deliberate process undertaken in response to a problem left underaddressed by current policies and practices. This article also weighs in on the debate in the sociology of culture over how culture influences action.

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