Consumer behaviour is an ever-evolving domain, one which has attracted a considerable amount of interest from practitioners, academics and economists alike. However, over the course of the 21st century one such challenge that has consistently reared its head is that of sustainability as we continue to be faced with the impending idea of depleting resources (Lukman et al., 2016).
The concept of sustainable consumption was brought forward during the United Nations conference on Environment and Development in 1992. According to agenda 21, the entire chapter was related to changing consumption patterns. It was stressed, that in order to protect the environment, there is a need to change consumption patterns by adopting a change in lifestyle and overall consumption behaviour (Banbury et al., 2012). It has been noted that issues such as global warming, pollution and depletion of natural resources are of serious concerns among consumers as they increasingly become aware of their own consumption ‘footprints’ (Guerrero et al., 2013). At the nexus of sustainability and sustainable consumption, research on sustainable consumption is concerned with understanding how different factors influence sustainable consumption and in process identify attitude-behaviour gap toward this important domain. For example, increasing use of natural resources has started to result in a demand (consumers demand) and supply (Earth natural resources) gap, and it will not be long before future generations struggle to have adequate supply of natural resources such as water. It is also argued that to further enhance the concept of sustainability, strategic environmental assessment (SEA) should be adopted, so as to ensure better decisions can be taken to sustain environmental sustainability. It is further highlighted that by the adoption of SEA, different policies and plans can be implemented in environmentally friendly ways (Vespa et al., 2017).
According to EEA the three major areas that accounts for 75-80% towards sustainability are housing (use of heating), food and drink (meat and dairy industry) and transport/tourism. Evidence suggests that consumers are not necessarily keen to take steps towards reducing their energy consumption and adopting a more sustainable life style. The reason for not adapting a more sustainable lifestyle is referred as the energy efficiency gap (Lehner et al., 2015). Apart from the global obesity epidemic, food consumption in the form of food waste and excessive meat consumption is also related to climate change and thus need measures to prevent further environmental damage.
For this proposed research project religious values and/or practices will be explored from the perspective of sustainable consumption behaviour. Candidates could choose to evaluate religious consequences and broader implications in the context of the extent to which consumers are environmentally aware of the importance of sustainable consumption within different industries/product categories, or the attitude-behaviour gap towards sustainable consumption.
Methodology: The philosophical stance will guide the researcher to seek answers to the research question in a methodological manner (Holden & Lynch, 2004). In order to gather deep insights an interpretivist research philosophy is proposed, meaning qualitative techniques will be used for data gathering and analysis.
Banbury, C., Stinerock, R., & Subrahmanyan, S. (2012). Sustainable consumption: Introspecting across multiple lived cultures. Journal of Business Research, 65(4), 497-503.
Guerrero M.L,. C., Sepúlveda, W. S., Villarroel, M., & María, G. A. (2013). Attitudes of meat retailers to animal welfare in Spain. Meat Science, 95(3), 569-575.
Holden, M. T., & Lynch, P. (2004). Choosing the appropriate methodology: understanding research philosophy. The marketing review, 4(4), 397-409.
Lehner, M., Mont, O., & Heiskanen, E. (2015). Nudging–A promising tool for sustainable consumption behaviour? Journal of Cleaner Production. Part A, 166-177
Lukman, R. K., Glavič, P., Carpenter, A., & Virtič, P. (2016). Sustainable consumption and production–Research, experience, and development–The Europe we want. Journal of Cleaner Production, 138, 139-147.
Vespa, M., Sinclair, A. J., Boerchers, M., & Gibson, R. (2017). New Process, Same Doubts: Participants’ Perceptions of Strategic Environmental Assessment in Western Newfoundland. Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 19(01), 1750004.
For more information please visit the NTU Doctoral School – Research Degrees webpages.
Fees and funding
Find out about fees and funding for PhD projects.
Guidance and support
Find out about guidance and support for PhD students.