Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Framing Sustainable Consumption in Different Ways: Policy Lessons from Two Participatory Systems Mapping Exercises in Hungary

  • Gabriella KissEmail author
  • György Pataki
  • Alexandra Köves
  • Gábor Király
Original Paper


Sustainable consumption as a complex phenomenon at the boundaries of different (ecological, economic, social) systems requires theoretical approaches that do justice to its complex causality and dynamism. Participatory systems mapping offers a tool to achieve this purpose. Its policy relevance lies in its ability to include diverse views, multiple actors, and offer options for policy intervention. The research reported here applied participatory systems mapping in order to define and identify system boundaries for sustainable consumption and uncover perceived causal relationships among the determining factors of sustainable consumption. By revealing the mental models of an expert and a conscious consumer panel on sustainable consumption in general, we can shed light on the cognitive constructions of sustainable consumption and identify most important boundaries that were chosen and their implications on policy-making. The expert panel framed the boundaries as lack of sustainable consumption, while the conscious consumer panel employed a positive framing as strong communities in sustainable consumption. The two panels also differed in their focus on scale: Experts targeted the national scale, while conscious consumers concentrated at the local scale.


Participatory systems mapping Policy intervention Sustainable consumption Hungary 



The authors appreciate the financial support this research has received from the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD), Hungary. Special thanks goes to Gábor Bartus, Head of NCSD Secreatriat acknowledging the organisational and intellectual assistance members of the Environmental Social Science Group (ESSRG) have provided them.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Corvinus University of BudapestBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Environmental Social Science Research GroupBudapestHungary
  3. 3.Budapest Business SchoolBudapestHungary

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