Consumption work in household circular economy activities: findings from a cultural probe experiment
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Cultural Economy. 2022, 568-583. 10.1080/17530350.2022.2066150
The widely discussed transition to a circular economy (CE) combines a large number of approaches that imply varying degrees of change and affect institutions and actor groups. Despite this variety, the basic premise of CE is that production and consumption are connected to each other in new ways. Consumers are integral to any attempt to gear the economy toward circularity. In this article, implications for consumption work in CEs are explored based on a qualitative, experimental approach using a handbook as a cultural probe. The case is Norwegian domestic dwellers enacting activities related to CE principles. The study reveals two interconnected findings that question and raise attention to broader social dimensions of circular economic activities in households. First, the participants envisioned and enacted activities of a specific CE alternative, in which a local, community-based, and self-sufficiency vision was central. Here, resources were utilised and cascaded domestically, reducing the link to economic exchanges that reach beyond the household to reduce and close environmental resource loops. Second, the enactment of circular activities required more time and work, leading to discussions in which standard wage labour was presented as problematic because it did not leave enough time to engage in circular consumption work.