Environmental Sustainability in Immigrant Households

Project Details



This project will investigate how Global South-to-North migration and the drive for urban sustainability intersect at the household level. The location is Manchester, where increasing immigration and ethnic diversity combine with an agenda to become a leading green city in Europe. Through mixed-methods, co-produced research, we will examine how immigrants from Pakistan and Somalia, two of the largest and fastest-growing groups in Manchester, perceive the green agenda and engage in 'environmentally significant' practices in daily life. It will also investigate how immigrants’ engagement in sustainability practices can contribute to building social cohesion and community resilience.


In response to the convergence of rising inward migration, cultural diversity, and environmental degradation, many cities are pursuing policies for inclusive and sustainable growth. Current research tends to focus on environmental degradation as a driver of rising international migration and less attention is paid to the challenges of environmental problems at a time when many Global North (GN) cities are becoming more heterogeneous following migration from the Global South (GS).

Most research on household sustainability is informed by a universalised position of the citizen-consumer, operating within social and political structures specific to the affluent GN. As a consequence, research often fails to consider the range of cultural meanings and lifestyle practices that shape environmentally significant behaviour in households. The gap in knowledge about the household practices of immigrants is all the more important given the policy and research interest in changing household practices that are environmentally significant either due to their contribution to environmental degradation or to their potential to reduce impact.

Our research is situated within a strand of environmental social science that regards practices as embedded within complex norms, values, relationships and power structures. We propose to pay greater attention to the practical knowledges carried by individuals as they move between countries and the contributions that such knowledges could make to improving sustainability in host societies.

We pose several questions that will inform policy agendas seeking to join-up social cohesion and environmental sustainability: how are culturally-specific notions of sustainability, premised on the need to reduce the impacts of Western over-consumption, understood by immigrants with non-Western lifestyles? What economic, cultural, and religious factors combine to influence the environmental concerns and household practices of diverse groups of immigrants from countries of the GS? How might paying critical attention to GS immigrants’ knowledges and practices enable the construction of new analytic lenses for approaching conceptions of sustainability and environmentally significant household practices? What are the challenges for urban policymakers in reconciling increasingly diverse populations with agendas for reducing unsustainable consumption through household behaviour change?

Funded by The Leverhulme Trust
Short titleR:HSZ Sustainability in Houses
Effective start/end date18/01/2131/01/24

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Consumption Institute


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