How consumption communities shape sustainable consumption? Studying antifouling painting as a communal practice in the Baltic Sea

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Objectives The main objective of the study is to explore the role of consumption community for sustainable consumption. The background of the study lies in the unsustainable consumption of the toxic antifouling paints in recreational boats in the Baltic Sea, hence the context of the study is in recreational boating and boat maintenance in the Baltic Sea. The study adapts practice theory, focusing on the practice elements, to explain the lack of sustainable consumption. The aim is to extend the present understanding on why leisure boaters find it hard to switch to ecological antifouling techniques by offering explanations for the role of boating community in explaining unsustainable consumption. In addition, the study aims at identifying potential opportunities and barriers boating community creates for sustainable consumption. The study lies under consumer culture theory (CCT) as market place cultures and communities form one of the main research programs of CCT. Methodology The study is qualitative in nature. The theoretical framework bases on practice theory, which also constructs the research approach of the study to understand the practice of antifouling painting, which is in the center of the analysis. The empirical data of the study consists of ethnography at the boatyards and harbors and eight in-depth interviews with leisure time boaters. Key Findings The findings indicate how the role of boating community in explaining the lack of sustainable consumption is prominent. The study finds that numerous factors within the practice elements of materials, competences and meanings explain boating community in terms of unsustainable consumption. Interestingly, the findings foreground how boating community can at times hinder sustainable consumption practices by uncovering the opportunities and barriers boating community is identified to create for sustainable consumption. Understanding the influence of consumption community and connected practice elements in terms of unsustainable consumption is helpful in trying to change the consumption to more sustainable. The study suggests that the change needs to start within the boating community. Marketers should be aware of the potential barriers boating community indicates to be creating as well. Furthermore, the findings contribute to the international research project CHANGE, which aims at changing leisure boat owners’ behaviors and making the Baltic Sea cleaner.
Thesis advisor
Bhatnagar, Kushagra
Hietanen, Joel
consumer culture, sustainable consumption, consumption community, consumption practices, practice theory, boating
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