Cleanliness and consumption: exploring material and social structuring of domestic cleaning practices

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In line with increasing international trends of energy efficient devices on the market and in households, domestic consumption of water and energy should be decreasing. However in Sweden, domestic per capita water consumption is not decreasing rapidly and energy consumption is actually increasing. This suggests that physical contexts are not the only factor shaping resource demand. People are also influenced by collective conventions; what we think is normal has a significant say in what we do, and the resources we consume in the course of everyday life. This paper explores the way context shapes what people do from both a material infrastructures and social infrastructures perspective, using cleanliness in Sweden as a case study. First, material infrastructures in Sweden are mapped, including device ownership, water, energy and time consumed related to cleanliness. Second, qualitative interviews with Swedish people aim to show the social structuring of cleanliness. Understanding the interplay between physical and social structures has potential implications for decreasing resource intensity in everyday life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-78
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology

Free keywords

  • social practices
  • cleanliness
  • sustainability
  • water consumption
  • energy consumption


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