This article investigates how environmental ethics are at play in people’s everyday lives and practices of consumption from a practice theoretical perspective. The analysis is based on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews from a larger study, with a selected focus in this article on the biographies and everyday practices of three households. These households were chosen for the analysis in order to reveal the greatest variation in degrees and ways of relating ethically to the environment.
Situating ethics in the specific contexts and lifeworlds of research participants reveals how environmental ethics of differing contents are to varying degrees at work in people’s lives. The article suggests that the general understanding of environmental ethics is closely connected to biographical histories as well as to social and cultural contexts. In a practice theoretical framework, environmental ethics are understood as a kind of general understanding that connects to larger scale cultural formations linking provision and consumption conceptualised as teleoaffective formations. In some cases, the general understanding may contribute to the formulation of a cultural critique of modern consumer society and create a vision of an alternative system of provision and consumption connected to an imagined teleoaffective formation.
This article explores the ‘fear to feel’ of ethnographers within German-speaking academic cultures based on qualitative ethnographic material from the author’s ethnographic fieldwork (2019–22). It gives a discussion on the fieldwork context, reflects on the author’s position(ality), and methodology, next to the presentation of various ‘fear types’ within academia evolving from the data set. They rank between the absolute silencing of emotions in the professional academic context, self-optimisation in which the suppression of emotion is styled as professional behaviour, and finally communalisation in a governing emotion regime. The different forms of (not) acting out fear are analysed using this empirical material as ‘affective communities of no-feeling’ that shape communities, build solidarities and reinforce models of domination. Within these fragile and constantly reconstructing communities, which assign a particular connotation to emotions, researchers act and subordinate in equal measure using their ability of emotion regulation as capital.
In Western prisons, inmates’ religious conversions are a social fact in which fear plays a predominant role. Based on a qualitative and longitudinal survey conducted over two years in a French prison, this article aims to show how religious fears emerge in the consciousness of non-religious prisoners. Phenomenologically, the empirical data show that these fears arise because of an incapacitating state of anxiety. Over time, life in prison affects the social identity of individuals, their structuring markers and their biographical continuity. But the social mechanisms of anxiety are not those of fear. It is diffuse anxiety that allows the appearance of a new and identified fear. This enigma is interesting for the sociology of knowledge and therefore of socialisation: individuals are not afraid of what they do not know. The survey highlights that the emergence of these fears of God, sin, hell and so on reveals a process of regression of the habitus of the inmates to their primary socialisations. As irrational as they may seem for the frightened themselves, these fears show a structuring potential by interpreting and organising the disconcerting distress of which they are the product. Fear – religious or not – integrates and synthesises anxiety. From that moment, the appearance of fear augurs a gain of psychic, intellectual and finally practical mastery of a situation without which it would have remained unmanageable. This is how intramural trajectories become conversion paths.
Singapore has established a reputation as a top performer in international student assessment tests and rankings, which is usually understood to be the result of a competitive education system and a distinct Asian parenting culture. Drawing on ethnographic data, the aim of the article is to explore the emotional and moral dimensions of Singaporean parents’ educational work, and how they cope with complex and sometimes contradictory demands in raising their young children. The article is based on interviews and observations with parents of pre- and primary school-aged children. The reasons for focusing specifically on this category of parents was that previous research indicates that parental involvement in children’s education in Singapore is most intense during this period, and that parents everywhere are faced with increasing expectations to attend to their young children’s learning and cognitive development. The findings contest simplistic interpretations of intensive parenting in East Asia, especially when considering the role of social class, gender and generational change.
While green public spaces have been studied in relation to biodiversity and climate change, and in relation to health and social inclusion, there is a need to further understand how they relate to a broader understanding of human wellbeing. Evidence suggests that public spaces play an important role with a view to happiness and mental health, but further evidence is needed on how people actually use such spaces and how human needs are met – and how this might compare across different contexts. This necessitates to linking conceptually, empirically and practically the consumption of such spaces, the notion of the good life, and the management of such spaces. Towards this aim, this article explores quality of life in relation to green public spaces in four cities of South and Southeast Asia: Chennai, Metro Manila, Shanghai and Singapore. Based on empirical research in these cities, we engage in a comparative analysis to discuss how and in what way ‘going to the park’ as a form of consumption is a satisfier towards meeting ‘Protected Needs’ () such as to live in a livable environment, to develop as a person or to be part of a community. The analysis shows that the practice ‘going to the park’ is linked to the practice ‘making the park’, leading to a discussion on how public policies can further support quality of life in cities. On a theoretical note, the article contributes to the debate about how to conceptually link human needs and social practices.
Flying is the most climate-impacting form of individual consumption. This article interrogates the drivers and dynamics behind ever-increasing amounts of air travel ascribable to a minority, whose flying contributes an ever-larger proportion of travel-related energy consumption and carbon emissions. Moving beyond established work on (increases in) flying, it establishes the need to focus transport emissions reduction efforts on this relatively small number of elite, hyper-aeromobile travellers. After outlining existing literature on different aspects of flying and frequent flying, which are combined in referring to hyper-aeromobility, the article reviews the many diverse explanations for its drivers and dynamics arising from different disciplinary traditions. Treating flying and frequent flying as ‘consumption behaviour’ has tended to focus on individualised behavioural explanations, but understanding and tackling rising hyper-aeromobility involves grasping expanding systems of provision, and social and cultural positive feedback loops involving socialisation, habituation and internationalisation of social practices. Understanding these requires a multidisciplinary approach analogous to the ‘needs satisfier escalator’ model relating to increasing car use which has been proposed by . The article then provides data from qualitative research on high-energy-consuming households to provide backing for the particular relevance and importance of a subset of more sociological and structural drivers as contributing to the expansion of aeromobility and its concentration in a hyper-aeromobile elite. It concludes that the current reliance on voluntary behaviour change and different forms of financial disincentives is ineffective, whereas more radical structural change, restrictions and impositions of quotas are increasingly necessary.
With the increasing pressure on the climate from human activities, it is urgent to envision and facilitate radically different ways of life that allow for significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions. This only happens if policy and action initiatives go beyond discursive practices that treat climate change mitigation as a matter of technological fixes, and individual behavioural change. Decades of research on the sociology of consumption show that lifestyle changes are as much about changes to norms and ideas about what ‘a good life’ is as they are about access to the necessary competences, infrastructures and sustainable alternatives. Acknowledging the growing body of sociological research that seeks to understand how expectations of the future shape processes of social change in the present, more attention could be paid to the role of discourse, narratives and storying when it comes to making efforts towards carbon neutral climate futures. Taking as a point of departure a futuring methodology called the Future Travel Workshop, this article discusses the potential role of stories through Moezzi et al’s () notion of stories as inquiry and stories as process for futurity. Comprised of three sessions, the workshop explores what future everyday lives and societies might look and feel like. Each session is framed by a set of narratives on climate related problems of the present, and how these problems affect the way we think about futures. Interestingly, the participants’ imagined futures went from technologically utopic and tension-free towards tense and radically different conceptions of the needed levels of societal reorganisation.
While it is widely accepted that social work interventions are more productive when they include fathers, fathers are largely left out of child and family social service interventions in Israel and most Western countries. Current research worldwide focuses on the role that fathers, mothers and social workers play in causing this phenomenon. In this article, we shed light on the importance of a fourth element: the policy-making process. In a case study of Israeli social services, we interviewed leading bureaucrats and policy makers regarding their position on engaging fathers and identified three main conflicts hindering policy makers’ ability and motivation to promote policy favouring father engagement: a gendered profession conflict, a political conflict, and an ethical conflict. We show how these conflicts, each emerging from a different sphere, together create a conflict-ridden environment that may explain policy makers’ lack of action. Finally, we provide our conclusion and discuss the limitations of the study.
This article explores the interrelations between gender and fear, based on the hypothesis of sexual fear being produced as a feminised emotion in discourse. Empirical analyses of historically contingent constructions of sexual fears from 1961–2021 in the advice pages of the popular German youth magazine Bravo show how fear has been produced as a central technique governing feminine sexuality, by far surmounting the importance of either feminine love or desire. The results point to historically specific constructions of feminised sexual dangers, developing from premarital pregnancy in the 1960s, emotional suffering because of premature coitus in the 1980s and 1990s, to digitalised sexual practices in the 21st century. Feminised constructions of sexual risks and fears render feminine subjects as passive, vulnerable and in need of protection while simultaneously producing masculine subjects as actively sex seeking and potentially dangerous. The results also indicate that discursive delegitimisation of feminine sexual fear may equally contribute to re-establishing sexual inequality by pressuring girls to be sexually available. I argue, therefore, that it is not sufficient to analyse constructions of gendered subjects as being either fearful or fearless. Instead, the reconstruction of discursive model practices governing subjects to manage sexual fears is key to disentangling the complex nexus of gender and fear. The investigation of historical transformations of sexual fear discourses contributes to tracing both dynamics and continuities in gendered power relations, thereby illustrating the central role of fear in classic sociological research themes of inequality and power relations.
This article contributes to growing sociological interest in theorising fear by providing cross-class evidence of what people do when they are afraid and how their emotion strategies matter for broader inequalities. Drawing on and extending pragmatist approaches to the study of emotion, I conceptualise the logistics of fear as the strategies that people employ to manage fear when prompted by a large-scale threat at the societal level. I argue that fear in such contexts can quickly exacerbate inequality by means of the unequal resources people draw on to solve or manage fear on a daily basis. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork conducted in the midst of a violent criminal war in urban Mexico, I trace the restructuring of metropolitan nightlife as a three-stage process: destruction, dispersion, and classed re-concentration. Attention to classed variations in emotion strategies over time provides evidence of the destructive and creative facets of fear, as well as of its stratifying power. More broadly, this research puts forth a pragmatist approach to the study of emotion that centres emotion as a problem and social process.