Sharing, Households and Sustainable Consumption

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Recently, economists and environmental scientists have problematised households, showing that their reducing size in average number of inhabitants has implications for environmental sustainability due to losses in economies of scale. Findings suggest that resources are shared better when people cohabit. This paper analyses this common domestic consumption, drawing on literature about households, sharing and sustainable consumption. It is argued that multiple person households apportion the resources involved in supplying practices through three modes of sharing: successive sharing, simultaneous sharing and shared/divided work. These are underpinned and enabled by standard material arrangements of households, in which a minimum of certain goods and services are available to residents regardless of number. Exemplifying the perspective, I examine recent survey data relating to meals and domestic laundry, two sociologically significant and resource-intensive spheres of domestic activity, paying attention to differences across one-person and multiple-person households. Modes of sharing, it is argued, also surfeit the domestic sphere, with market, state and household infrastructures playing contextually variable roles in provisioning goods and services among populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-452
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Issue number3
Early online date22 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Modes of sharing
  • collaborative consumption
  • common material arrangements
  • eating patterns
  • economies of scale
  • households
  • laundry
  • sharing economy
  • solo living
  • sustainable consumption


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