Understanding consumption

Our approach at Tyndall Manchester is based on understanding consumption, the acquisition of goods and services, as an activity that takes place as part of the myriad social practices comprise our everyday life, including cooking, doing the laundry and commuting to work. This point of view emphasizes the routine structures of everyday life and the cultural conventions that amount to consumption, drawing attention to how wants and needs arise from engaging in practices, the processes through which practices materialize and how they might change over time.


Practices make up the daily elements of our everyday life and encompass myriad aspects of what people say and do everyday.

From this perspective, tackling causes of climate change builds on the view of practices as shaping and structuring various areas of consumption from food to mobility and household energy consumption.

Tyndall Manchester focus

Our work at Tyndall, therefore, seeks to interrogate notions of practices in the problems and dilemmas that populate the debate on climate change, such as energy consumption, transport and the production and consumption of food. In doing so, our aim is to explore how social and technical structures driven by policy and economic development, can lead to changes in practices as we strive to address climate change concerns.

Our approach

Our approach seeks to identify and exploit the interrelationships between practices and the structuring of socio-technical systems, from aviation infrastructures to systems of food provision and networks of energy provision.  Central to this theme is what transitions in the current systems that govern daily life are necessary to meet climate change and sustainability goals. If a practices approach can shed light on the dynamics that make up socio-technical systems, then how can developments like smart metering or labelling facilitate or drive changes in production and consumption? Our research attempts to answer this overarching concern through topical scholarly endeavours and a variety of research methods.

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