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Author: Laurence Godin

In this article, I argue that care is a useful tool to think about consumption as embedded in social relations within and outside the market, and draw the consequences for moving towards sustainable lifestyles. To do so, I engage in a review of the literature that brings together consumption and care in its various forms. I review three main bodies of work: the literature on consumption that links care to consumer behaviour and consumption practices; the work addressing the commodifications of care and how it feeds in the neoliberal organisation of society; and the literature on climate change and the development of sustainable lifestyles. I close with a reflection on some lessons of care for academic researchers studying sustainability, consumption and a transition towards more sustainable and just societies.

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Laurence Godin’s () piece is a very welcome and commendable attempt to provide a broader synthetisation of the current literature on care and consumption, and to generate some critical insights for future work in this area. I am drawing on Godin’s article to make some further observations. These are three-fold, pertaining to our current understandings of care, markets and consumption respectively.

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Author: Chizu Sato

This is a commentary on ‘Care and consumption’ (). I offer my commentary to push some of the author’s points a bit further.

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The Independent Review of England’s agri-food systems, commonly known as the National Food Strategy (NFS), was commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in 2019. The NFS report, published in two stages in 2020 and 2021, outlines a range of interventions and policy proposals to achieve better agri-food outcomes in terms of public health and environmental sustainability. This commentary focuses on the challenges associated with incorporating a diversity of voices within the NFS’s evidence base. To achieve this, the NFS mobilised a series of public dialogue events to capture lay perspectives. Led by professional facilitators, these events sought to open a deliberative space to explore the workings of agri-food systems, leading to the publication of a public engagement report in late 2021. While diverse views were recorded, the report found ‘a strong appetite for change’ among the participants, eager to address the problems associated with current agri-food systems. In commenting on the dialogue process, we identify three distinct problematics which arise from the NFS’s public engagement strategy. Firstly, we consider the array of subject positions at play in the report. Secondly, we discuss the ‘epistemologies of engagement’, reflecting on the different forms of knowledge that are enrolled through the process of public engagement. Thirdly, we consider the under-acknowledged politics that are at play in these kinds of public engagement exercises and the limits of ‘co-production’ as a methodological principle. We conclude by drawing out the wider (national and international) implications of this particular form of public engagement which aims to incorporate lay perspectives into policy development processes.

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Understanding not only differences in consumption but differences in how consumption changes presents a theoretical and empirical challenge. In this article, we draw on theories of practice, a life-course perspective and approaches in terms of tastes or dispositions to examine how food consumption changed after midlife in a large cohort of French adults aged from 50 to 75 years. We have been able to present a bird’s eye view of these practices, thanks to multiple correspondence analysis and a micro-level analysis of how individuals changed their food consumption as they aged, thanks to regression models. The first step summarised food consumption data into three modes of engagement with eating, related to prescriptions from the food market (eating as convenience), nutrition (health) and French cuisine (tradition). The second allowed us to examine how modes of engagement with eating were associated with individual characteristics (being a woman, having higher education), ageing and characteristics of participants’ living arrangements (living with children and/or a partner). In conclusion, the sociology of consumption may benefit from taking stock of both dispositional and contextual perspectives on the differences and dynamics of practice. Developing adequate methods, as we do here, is a promising way forward.

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The growth of global digital ecosystems such as Google, Apple and Uber has led to radical changes in economic activity, work and consumption. It has also challenged established economic, social and organisation theory, which has clear limitations in understanding these phenomena. The discourses on these topics are conducted in various arenas, which are not linked, and conceptualise digital ecosystems differently. What kind of theoretical object is this? And what is the role of consumption in digital ecosystems? To investigate these issues, we conducted an investigation in two steps. First, we performed a focused and a comparative analysis of the research on platforms and digital ecosystems. We identified four research streams: the political, the economic, the technological, and the social and cultural. In the second step, we explored a typology of the role of consumption in the four streams, that is, the position in the ecosystem, the consumer agency and the currency of exchange. We associated the consumer as the critical actor of digital ecosystems, because the impact of digital ecosystem development hinges on the way in which consumers perform, accept and integrate the technology into their everyday lives. Our findings highlight that the relationship between consumption and digital technology is multifaceted and non-deterministic.

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Cultural participation during childhood significantly impacts an individual’s chances of future social mobility and well-being. Research to date has focused disproportionately on adults’ cultural practices, failing to comprehensively examine how children’s cultural participation is formed, structured and linked to their parents’. Drawing upon data from the Taking Part Survey, this article first examines the cultural profiles that emerge in children’s participation in England (including highbrow, eclectic, popular or restricted) and then employs regression techniques to disentangle the effects of parental capital (level of education versus cultural participation profile) on children’s cultural profiles. The analysis provides the greater granularity needed to understand the relative strength and significance of parentally embodied versus institutionalised cultural capital in children’s varying forms of engagement with arts and culture. While the patterns of intergenerational transmission revealed in the study largely confirm the role of institutionalised cultural capital in the reproduction of cultural inequality, they also reveal the significance of parental participation for children’s cultural participation. This highlights the need to approach cultural mobility and arts engagement policies at the household level rather than targeting children individually.

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