Uni Study Says Urban Communities Can Confront Overconsumption


According to recent research from the Corvinus University of Budapest, self-organizing urban communities can effectively confront the market-consumer culture based on overconsumption, and spread lifestyle practices that are more ecologically aware based on the transfer of knowledge, moderation, and sharing.

"Communities have strong, largely untapped capacities which, in a supportive business and policy environment, could contribute relatively cheaply and quickly to the spread of new lifestyle habits. It must be recognized that by sharing, self-sufficiency and applying the principle of reciprocity, we can substantially reduce our material and energy consumption," highlight the researchers in their joint statement regarding the study.

The authors of the study are Tamás Veress and Gabriella Kiss, researchers at the Budapest Corvinus University, and Ágnes Neulinger, a staff member at the University of Pécs.

According to the study, current economic and social systems operate in a wasteful and environmentally destructive way, ignoring sustainability aspects. Unsustainable systems are often supported by economic policy measures. Urban communities concerned with sustainability are therefore not in an easy situation, and Corvinus researchers assessed how difficult their task is.

As part of the research, 21 interviews were conducted in 2020-21 with members of urban communities who contributed to the spread of more ecologically conscious behavior patterns in Budapest, in the areas of mobility, community gardens, energy, food, animal welfare and housing. The summary of the results was published in the journal Environmental Policy and Governance on June 29.

Researchers say that one of the main lessons of the article is that self-organized community associations are able to achieve a positive effect even in the face of unfavorable circumstances, and to take part in bringing the ecological turn closer. According to the study, community members influence each other's environmentally friendly attitudes, knowledge, and lifestyle habits in three ways.

During involvement and participation, members can adopt and pass on eco-conscious behavior and consumption patterns, and as a result of this, members of communities striving for ecological awareness sometimes change their way of life, for example giving up flying, meat, or even fast fashion.

The researchers say that the effects on individuals are made possible by the three roles of urban communities. Typically, in the role of "interpreter" or expert, the more knowledgeable members help the least experienced members in consumer awareness and in general to navigate sustainability issues. In the community space, members can share experiences and ideas, as well as build a bridge between different points of view, interests, knowledge levels, motivations and groups.

Positive reinforcement can also be manifested in the form of a supportive environment, as in this case, the community does not stigmatize mistakes, and joint learning enables experimentation and processing of successes and failures.

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