kvinna väljer mat i affären
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"Difficult for the individual to make a difference"


Who is responsible for sustainable consumption in a world where we as individuals are part of the surrounding society? This is a question that sociologists and other researchers from across Europe have been pondering at this year's major conference organised by the European Sociological Association (ESA). Several researchers from the Centre for Consumption Research took the train up to Oslo, to talk about the future, justice and consumption.

Gabriella Wulff, you are one of the researchers who attended the ESA conference in Norway, where you discussed consumption with a focus on the future and justice. It's been quite an intense few days, hasn't it?

– Indeed. On the one hand, we've listened to some of the most influential researchers on the subject, and on the other hand, we've presented our own research. We also took part in the launch of a new academic journal - Consumption and Society. And a bit of mingling, of course.

Gabriella Wulff
Researcher Gabriella Wulff at The Centre for Consumption Research.
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Consumption is such a big part of our lives, while at the same time it is a strain on the environment that we consume the way we do right now.

ESA is a major player in sociology in Europe and elsewhere, why?

– ESA is an organisation primarily for and by sociologists. But what's cool about ESA is that it also brings together other researchers with an interest in how people and institutions are connected, such as business economists and anthropologists. ESA is also linked to an international network of researchers from around the world.

Researchers from the Centre for Consumption Research in Oslo. From left to right: Anna Post, Elias Mellander, Ulrika Holmberg, Gabriella Wulff, Lena Hansson.
Photo: Göteborgs universitet

You yourself are involved in ESA. What is your role in this organisation?

- Within ESA there are 37 smaller networks, focusing on specific issues. One of the largest networks is RN05, Sociology of Consumption, where I am a board member. This includes being involved in reviewing all the abstracts for the conference, as well as being responsible for two of the sessions at the conference.

Photo: Göteborgs universitet
Photo: Shutterstock

What issues do you see as particularly important now for researchers studying social issues, sociology and consumption?

– Right now there is a lot of talk about where the responsibility for future consumption should lie. There is a criticism that consumers have been expected to solve climate issues through active choices. At the same time, we live as part of a society, which makes it difficult for individuals to make a difference.

– Another important issue is how we look forward, which was also the theme of the conference. While economists and consultants make their interpretations of the world, sociology takes as its starting point the study of people and their approach to the world around them. Consumption is such a big part of our lives, while at the same time it is a strain on the environment that we consume the way we do right now. We therefore need to look at alternative ways of looking at the future, including the perceptions we can create between people.

Många föreläsningar och diskussioner om vår tids konsumtion.
Photo: Göteborgs universitet

Text: Agnes Faxén