تنظیمات درون زا و توسعه پایدار
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|29069||2002||17 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||7851 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : The Journal of Socio-Economics, Volume 31, Issue 5, 2002, Pages 511–527
This paper focuses on the relevance of endogenous preferences for the explanation of consumer behavior and its role for sustainable development. The demand side has received far less attention in the sustainability discussion than the production side. There seems, however, little doubt that consumption is equally as important for achieving sustainability (e.g., F. Duchin, G.-M. Lange, The Future of the Environment: Ecological Economics and Technological Change, Oxford University Press, New York, 1994). While the influence of social interaction of preferences has been pointed out by economists for centuries, this link is generally submerged in the standard economic assumption of individual interest maximizing behavior. With reference to a specific type of local food market (community supported agriculture groups, CSA), this paper investigates consumer behavior and its relevance for sustainable development. Several studies have investigated CSAs’ contributions to different aspects of sustainable development and barriers to their expansion. One aspect usually left out is the change in preferences after interaction with the farmer/s and other market participants for several years. This learning aspect may, however, prove crucial to identify paths towards sustainable development.
The total energy used annually in the United States for food production, processing, distribution, and preparation is about 1600 l of oil per capita per year, constituting 17% of the total per capita U.S. energy consumption. The U.S. expends three times as much energy per capita just for food production than do developing countries for all energy consuming activities (Pimentel and Pimentel, 1996, p. 8). Here, consumption patterns (indirect energy consumption through meat vs. direct energy intake through grain and vegetables) play an important role. For example, with livestock, roughly 20 cal of energy are needed to obtain 1 cal of food. The cropland needed per American (excluding exports) is about 0.5 ha. Given the fact that there are only 0.25 ha (1.5 billion ha of arable land worldwide divided by 6 billion world population) available per person, it would be impossible to replicate U.S. food systems worldwide or to feed the rest of the world a U.S.-type diet even with the addition of energy, resources and improved technologies (Pimentel and Pimentel, 1996). To move towards higher sustainability, adjustments of consumption patterns are needed in addition to attempts for making production methods long-term viable and increasing per acre yields. Duchin and Lange (1994) come to similar conclusions. Their study of four main world regions showed that even assuming the best available technologies, emission targets established at the 1992 Rio de Janeiro UN conference on environment and development (UNCED) could not be met without adjusting final demand. While the focus in the sustainability discussion has predominantly been on the production side, these results suggest that it is also necessary to discuss consumption issues for achieving sustainability. Yet, the barriers for questioning our consumption patterns are substantial. This has it’s roots, at least in part in the way consumer behavior is modeled by economists. Several authors (e.g., Elster, 1989, Knobloch, 1994 and Sen, 1977) argue that consumers seek to satisfy broader goals than utilitarian theory suggests. The newer literature on preferences suggests extending the idea of utility by ethical motivations. Numerous studies found that consumption satisfies a wide array of needs and wants (Doyal and Gough, 1991 and Max-Neef, 1992). Some of them originate in self-interest, others are based on broader (social) goals. Fostering solutions, which contribute to the latter, may enhance sustainability. Yet, there is another dimension relevant for a demand side discussion of sustainability. While tastes and preferences usually do not change rapidly, they do change over time as people interact and as the social institutions that surround them evolve (“endogenous preferences”). Such changes may be observed in community supported agriculture (CSA) markets as consumers interact with the CSA farmer and other members. Since preferences are formed through social CSA interaction (e.g., Smith, 1759/1976 and Marx, 1867/1906; Nelson, 1995, Schor, 1998 and Veblen, 1967), we should be able to identify motives that are generally submerged in the standard economic assumption of individual interest maximizing behavior. While we cannot test whether preferences are changing over time since we cannot observe them directly, we can ask people about their motivations and how these have developed. And it is reasonable to assume that there is a strong correlation between these motivations for consumption and consumer preferences. A drawback of loosening the assumption of fixed preferences is that one cannot test consistency of behavior over time unless one has precise information about the changes in preferences. However, we will argue here that to take these complications into consideration is necessary and not negligible. In a more normative sense Norton et al. (1998) question the assumption of consumer sovereignty. They point to the tension between individual and social interests in posing the challenging question: Is it not the assumption of consumer sovereignty that is undemocratic because it precludes collective action? They argue that how much influence the individual has and how much influence is allowed to the public is rather a matter of degree. The difference in result between a command-and-control sustainability approach and one where preferences are influenced is that in the former people feel deprived whereas in the latter they may feel better-off and proud to contribute to sustainability. In this paper, we examine the dynamics of consumer behavior and its importance to the sustainability discussion. To begin, we present the different concepts of consumer behavior. We then review the competing ideas on which different models of consumer behavior are based. Finally, we test with reference to a household survey of CSA members, the thesis that members’ preferences change through interactions with farmers and other CSA members. If preferences change during interactions and are shaped by institutions, this proves important for the evaluation of initiatives like CSAs as well as for the design of environmental regulations.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Institutional economists consider markets as sets of institutions (e.g., Hodgson, 1988). The complex structures of social interaction defined by markets and other economic institutions shape the evolution of individual preferences. We investigated the dynamics of institutional and individual behavioral evolution. The role that social institutions play in shaping human behavior and as expressions of human behavior was analyzed in experimental settings which found that a wider array of behavior can be observed than assumed in standard economic models. Usually, several traits of behavior are possible. Which one is chosen depends on the personal history, other actors’ behavior, as well as the type of interaction in the bargaining situation or market. Continual and face-to-face interaction was found to enhance cooperation. This is also one of the characteristics of CSAs. Thus, CSAs seem to support cooperative rather than competitive behavior. Thus, the type of market appears to have an influence on how preferences and subsequent behavior is influenced. During the CSA membership, social motivations (like supporting local farms, concern for the environment, eating vegetables in season, and reducing packaging) were enhanced. While “doing something for my health” drew people into CSAs, this factor decreased over time in importance while “eating vegetables in season” and “reducing packaging” gained importance. It was also found that while a “stronger sense of community” was a factor motivating people to join a CSA, this became less important during the membership period. Additionally, CSAs serve as an example that preferences are not only changed through political measures but also in markets. The direction this change takes depends on the personal history of the consumers, the institutional settings, and also the degree of direct interaction and feedback that markets allow. CSAs appear to make a contribution to forming preferences to more sustainable behavior within their limited realm. The conceptualization of consumer motives is crucial for understanding the influence consumer behavior has as an integral part of a demand side analysis of sustainable development. The analysis in this study is based on institutional economics as developed by Veblen (1919) and Commons (1990). Preferences are no longer conceived of as exogenous. Instead they are continually adapting. The neoclassical assumption of general equilibrium is replaced with the idea of agents learning and acting through real historical time (Hodgson, 1999b). While, it is doubtful that CSAs with their current characteristics will constitute a significant part of future food markets, CSAs do have the potential to contribute to sustainability in the following ways: supplying marketable products, satisfying the need for healthy food in a more sustainable manner, satisfying the desire to act responsibly as a consumer, and pointing to the importance of innovative cooperation for sustainability. Thus, CSAs may increase both responsiveness to consumer needs and sustainability, but this increase is of limited reach. Ignoring their effect of learning and institution forming would, however, underestimate the contribution that CSA groups are malting to sustainable development.