Choosing sustainable consumption: A capability perspective on indicators

Flavio Comim, Rie Tsutsumi, Angels Varea

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The concept of sustainable consumption (SC) has been proposed as a way of operationalising sustainable development (SD). However, until now, in view of the difficulties in conceptualising SC, emphasis has been placed mainly on a pragmatic approach. In an a-conceptual and pragmatic account of SC, many problems remain unaddressed, such as the danger of the notion becoming empty and lack of integration between the different dimensions of sustainability. In this paper, we propose that the informational space provided by the capability approach (CA) offers a conceptual framework to elaborate SC. The CA is employed here (i) to discuss the philosophical underpinnings of SC as part of a strategy for enhancing quality-of-life and (ii) to investigate the links between the different dimensions of SC. Emphasis on autonomy, freedom, and public reasoning in the CA can help in contextualising and providing an organising frame for SC policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-509
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of International Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomy
  • Capability approach
  • Choice
  • Sustainable consumption


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