The social consequences of sustainable practices

Sofie Gammelby Christiansen, Mette Egede Pedersen, Tine Vejstrup Nielsen & Rikke Hovedskov Estrup

Student thesis: Project on Graduate Program


This thesis is centered on the connection between the increased focus on climate change and
families' attempts to implement sustainable practices in their everyday lives. At present,
sustainability is primarily investigated from a natural scientific and political perspective
involving the possible consequences that may occur as a result of climate change. This paper
explores sustainability from a health promotion perspective using a qualitative approach in which
the focus is on people's contexts and opportunities for action. Pierre Bourdieu and relevant
Scandinavian class researchers constitute the theoretical framework for investigating different
families’ approaches to sustainable practices. Hence, this paper investigates how social class
might serve as a framework for understanding families’ perceptions of and approaches to
sustainable practices. The empirical data of this thesis consist of semi-structured interviews with
four Danish families with different social backgrounds supported by observations in the same
families. The overall conclusion of this thesis is that the social class of a family has an impact on
their perception of and approach to sustainable practices. When social trends place the
responsibility for climate change with the individual citizen, our findings show that families
position themselves in relation to sustainable practices. Consequently, we find that sustainable
practices may entail moral condemnation between the privileged and less privileged families and
hence act as a new middle class marker. In conclusion, we find that concerns about climate
change go across families regardless of their social backgrounds. However, the social class of a
family is crucial to how they act upon their concerns.

EducationsHealth Promotion and Health Strategies, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Graduate
Publication date30 May 2019
Number of pages117
SupervisorsIben Charlotte Aamann