ASU Center for Organization Research and Design

Understanding the Diffusion of Sustainable Product-Service Systems: Insights From the Sociology of Consumption and Practice Theory

by Josephine Mylan

Jun 15, 2015

The sustainable product-service system (SPSS) concept highlights that achieving sustainability requires changes in both 'production' and 'consumption'. Nevertheless, attention has focused mainly on 'production'. This paper enriches the SPSS approach with insights from the sociology of consumption and practice theory to provide a deeper understanding of the use of products and services in daily life contexts. The paper advances three key insights related to: a) the internal dynamics of user practices, b) the strength of linkages of practice elements (loose and tight coupling), c) external linkages to other practices. These insights are mobilised to provide a deeper understanding of the uptake and diffusion of innovations such as SPSS. The insights are illustrated with two cases in which interventions designed to stimulate diffusion have had differential success: energy efficient light bulbs and low temperature laundry. Implications for understanding the diffusion of SPSS are discussed.