Practice makes perfect? Sustainable practices with ICT and daily travel

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: The thesis shows how practice theory can be applied in different ways when exploring how daily life can be supported to become more environmentally sustainable. Ultimately the thesis aims to contribute to new knowledge on how to design policies and interventions that aim at facilitating environmentally sustainable practices.  This thesis argues that practice theory is useful in the field of sustainability research since it offers as point of departure a perspective on human everyday life which decentres focus from individual behaviour and instead looks at how social practices are constructed by integrating and combining material, bodily and mental elements.The thesis discusses the following questions: i) How can the role of ICT in everyday life be conceptualized from a practice perspective?, ii) How can practice theory be used in order to describe and assess second order environmental effects? and iii) What are the key considerations from a practice perspective when designing social/physical interventions for sustainable mobility?The papers in this thesis all use practice theory as point of departure but with different outcomes. Practice theory is thus used conceptually, methodologically and analytically. The main conclusions of the thesis are:  Changes in practices due to ICT usage will inevitably have environmental impacts, both negative and positive, and for policy-makers it is imperative to take this into consideration when planning for the future and actively support and facilitate sustainable social practices. Looking at changes in practices due to new ICT usage can be one way to include second order effects in environmental assessments, in this way contributing to a discussion of potential environmental impacts from implementing a new product, application or service.Interventions, such as a cargo bike pool or restrictive work travel policies, have the potential to change existing practices. However, the potential of these changes, depend on a variety of different factors which are more or less difficult to influence for the individual practitioner such as work location, time schedules, availability of transportation means and modes. Further, it is difficult to foresee exactly how such changes will look and if they sustain in the long run. Finally, it is not necessarily so that an intervention will have the desired outcome that was intended, the outcome might be something else, consequently this means that interventions need to be analysed and assessed from other perspectives, one being a practice perspective.