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Title: Are you worth it? : a practice-orientated approach to everyday hair care to inform sustainable consumption strategies
Author: Hielscher, S.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis investigates the potential in applying a practice-orientated approach to women’s everyday hair care routines to inform sustainable design and sustainable consumption strategies. It seeks to develop an understanding of the multi-relational elements that make up the practice and to recognise how these elements influence what women do to their hair, and how often, and how these actions therefore impact on resource use. A practice-orientated approach is argued to provide insights into aspects of the dynamics of everyday life that can help design for sustainability to engage with the complexities of routines that are not accessible to current sustainability strategies. This thesis builds on Shove’s (2004; 2003) work on sustainable consumption. Shove (2004) has identified some limitations of current sustainable consumption approaches that try to address people’s behaviours and consider the environmental and social implications of products in their use phase. She has recognised that everyday routines are complex and difficult to change through approaches that only consider people’s attitudes towards the environment and choices they might make to change their behaviours. In order to overcome such limitations, Shove (2004) has advocated an alternative approach inspired by practice theory (Reckwitz 2002). Her recommendation instigated the need for this research study that examines whether explorative research orientated to practices remedies the current limitations. It does this by reflecting on the potential for design to change practices. A practice-orientated approach offers a way forward for sustainable designers to look beyond individual behaviours and products to the embodied skills, emotions, temporalities, cultural knowledge and ideas that Schatzki (1996; 2002) has identified as making a practice. This approach emphasises what people consider ‘normal’ ways of life and the performance of everyday routines. Cycles of the practice enactments rely on the co-evolution of the interconnected elements; their reconfiguration often leads to practices changing, with design implicated in such changes. A practice-orientated approach required that the practicalities and processes of hair care routines be witnessed. This could only be accomplished through an in-depth involvement in women’s lives by drawing on an ethnographic methodology. The research is based upon in-depth and evocative interviews in women’s homes, interviews with hair care ‘experts’ and a creative workshop at Boots the Chemist. The research into women’s hair care developed themes surrounding the role of products, the performance of hair care routines, the cycles of their enactment and the influence of social relations, that together, provided insights into aspects of the dynamics of everyday practices. The literature of material culture, practice theory and design aided the process of focusing on the materialisation of the practice of hair care. Using an explorative and practice-orientated approach, this thesis establishes a contextualisation and empirical verification of the identified deficiencies of current sustainability approaches through an examination of Boots’ product development process. In relation to practices changing, the thesis establishes a deeper understanding of the practice of hair care, including a detailed account of the interconnectedness of its elements, its stability and instability. This understanding has led to an identification of some key factors, including designs that stabilise and destabilise practices and can therefore reinforce current routines but also potentially can bring about change. The thesis argues that an understanding of these factors is not accessible to either Boots’ product development process or current sustainability strategies. It is anticipated that the research will be of particular interest to sustainable design researchers who are interested in changing everyday practices and academics who examine the conceptions of practice theory and the practice of hair care.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available