Keynote opening day: Sophie Dubuisson-Quellier, Research Professor at Centre de Sociologie des Organisations

Time: August 31st – 14:45

Title: Why do we consume so much? Exploring the lock-ins of affluent consumption

Abstract: Because consumption is today largely unsustainable, it is identified as an important lever of the ecological transition. But can we limit ourselves to the responsibility of individuals by questioning consumers about their lifestyles? Affluent consumption economies, which are highly resource intensive, cannot be the result of consumer choices alone. Affluent consumption is extensively organised and governed because of its structural role in both development models of states and business models of companies. It has been forged as a norm that is activated, legitimised, and institutionalised by public discourses and policies, corporate strategies, the media, and public opinion. However, it cannot be imposed on individuals by force. The governance of consumption is based on technologies of power that orient individual conduct, leading people to adopt the norms of affluent consumption by activating and shaping consumers’ dispositions, which are acquired through market socialisation.

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Keynote on closing day: Dr. Daniel Welch, Research Fellow at the Sustainable Consumption Institute (University of Manchester)

Time: September 2nd, 10:45

Title: Social Futures and the Sociology of Consumption

Abstract: The conference theme ‘Consumption, justice and future’ invites us to reflect on how we understand the social phenomenon of future orientation in the sociology of consumption, and on the normative orientation of the sub-discipline, and in the light of this, asks us to consider:  ‘Where do we go from here?’ As Ruth Levitas (2013) notes, the origins of Sociology, socialism and utopia were fundamentally intertwined in nineteenth century Europe.H.G. Wells, a contender for the first Chair of Sociology in the UK, suggested in 1906: “…the creation of Utopias – and their exhaustive criticism – is the proper and distinctive method of sociology”. However, as Levitas argues, as the social sciences institutionalised, the antinomies of utopia and science, and of factual and fictional, intensified, repressing the utopian and fictive. Future-orientation itself became excluded as an object of analysis from Sociology. The conventional sociological viewpoint sees present conditions as outcomes emerging from the past (Abbott, 2005). Today, however there is a burgeoning interest in Sociology in ‘the future’ understood as a contested object of social action. This is evidenced by the Research Streams on the sociology of the future at the two most recent ESA conferences (‘Practicing the Future’ 2019; ‘Researching Social Futures’ 2021), which were the largest Research Stream at both. The presentation addresses the significance of this re-engagement with social futures for the sociology of consumption. The paper explores some recent contributions to a sociology of the future and their relevance to consumption: Ann Mische’s (2009, 2014) cultural sociology of ‘dimensions of projectivity’ and Jen Beckert’s (2016) economic sociology of ‘imagined futures’. It goes on to discuss empirical research on lay ‘Imagined Futures of Consumption’ (PI: Welch, 2018-2021), and work in progress on a theoretical framework for the SIFO-led project ‘IMAGINE: Contested Futures of Consumption’ (PIs: Nina Heidenstrøm, Atle Hegnes, 2021 – 24), and considers the implications of a ‘politics of time’ for the sociology of consumption.  

Here are some details about Daniel Welch:

More information about their presentations will be announced later.