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Tullia Jack has defended her thesis

Tullia Jack at the Department of Sociology has defended her doctoral thesis in sociology ”Negotiating Conventions: cleanliness, sustainability and everyday life” today, 19 December at one o'clock in the Palaestra auditorium in Lund.

Discussant: Professor Alan Warde, Department of Sociology, University of Manchester

Part of Abstract

Cleanliness has seen a rapid increase in both developed and developing countries, along with a parallel rise in not only water and energy but also cleaning products consumed. Water and energy supply as well as dealing with waste are environmentally critical in securing a sustainable future. This dissertation aims to contribute to sustainability by providing new insights around how conventions change or stay stable. This knowledge will be useful in intervening and shifting conventions in more sustainable directions.

Cleanliness is a mundane issue, yet stills play a leading role in everyday life, quietly using water, energy and people’s time and has been increasing in Sweden since at least the 1980s. I argue that the media is part of this, not as a casual factor, but rather as a reflector and amplifier of various cleanliness practices. Media represent cleanliness, or hyper-cleanliness, as ideal while deviations are presented as shameful or even medical problems. These potentially oppressive representations are, however, not naïvely accepted in everyday life, but rather calibrated as it is common knowledge that magazines show over-hyped perfection, but also criticised and resisted.

Cleanliness is context driven and relational, so this dissertation argues that unsustainable increases in cleanliness that have led to intensifying water and energy consumption could be reversed by changing cleanliness conventions.
Investigating cleanliness conventions is important in understanding how resource consuming practices are shared and reproduced.

This dissertation provides new insights into ways that media plays into how cleanliness conventions, and ways that people relate to – and resist – representations in everyday life are useful considerations when designing interventions into current collective conventions to steer everyday life in more sustainable directions.

Main supervisor and Chair person of the defence was Lisa Eklund, Department of Sociology, Lund University

Supervisor: Christofer Edling, Department of Sociology, Lund University

Examination committee:

  • Professor Inge Røpke, Center for Design, Innovation and Sustainable Transitions, Aalborg University Copenhagen
  • Professor Anna-Lisa Lindén, Department of Sociology, Lund University
  • Associate professor Christian Fuentes, Department of Service Management and Service Studies, Lund University

Tullia Jack's profile in Lund University Research Portal

The thesis: Negotiating Conventions: cleanliness, sustainability and everyday life

Tullia Jack

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Lund University
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