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Rebound Effects in Practice: An Invitation to Consider Rebound From a Practice Theory Perspective

Marco Sonnberger and Matthias Gross

Ecological Economics, 2018, vol. 154, issue C, 14-21

Abstract: Rebound effects are the unintended consequences of improvements in energy efficiency. They refer to situations in which efficiency improvements are reduced or even reversed by changes in behavior. In many cases these effects stem from small behavior changes rooted in cultural values or from the interconnectedness of everyday practices. Practice theory has established itself in many social science disciplines, including ecological economics, and its focus on routinized activities in everyday life promises to provide beneficial insights to debates on rebound. Since this has not been done to date, this article aims to fill the gap by offering suggestions as to how practice theory can complement and enhance existing explanations of rebound effects. Drawing on existing practice theory research on energy consumption, we identify and discuss a number of starting points for practice theory-inspired research on rebound effects. These include the pivotal role of distributed agency between humans and non-humans (e.g. technical devices), the co-dependence of practices, the co-evolution of practices with systems of provision, as well as a general trend towards the acceleration of everyday life.

Keywords: Rebound effects; Practice theory; Co-evolution; Consumption (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.07.013

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