Jaeger-Erben, M., Rückert-John, J. & Schäfer, M.Sustainable consumption through social innovation: a typology of innovations for sustainable consumption practices

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Jaeger-Erben, M., Rückert-John, J. & Schäfer, M.

Release date:
December 2015

Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 108, December 2015, pages 784-798

Social innovations are often assumed to have high potential for promoting sustainable development and transformation towards more sustainable consumption practices. Meanwhile, the spectrum of social phenomena that are labelled as socially innovative is quite diverse and heterogeneous, ranging from urban gardening projects to swapping and sharing platforms to Do-It-Yourself workshops. This article describes a research project where sixty-two cases of potential social innovations for sustainable consumption were analysed, based on a process model combining innovation and practice theory. Thorough document and case analyses revealed five distinguishable types of innovation: Do-It-Together, Strategic Consumption, Sharing Communities, Do-It-Yourself and Utility-enhancing Consumption. These are mainly characterised by differences along four dimensions – innovativeness, formality, communality and personal engagement. Based on this typology, type-specific measures to overcome problems and strengthen advantages are presented which help practitioners in politics, administration, associations and foundations to support social innovations for sustainable consumption.

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