Knowledge societies that promote equality and innovation over material wealth and production are unthinkable without modern information and communication technologies (ICT). However, there has been growing awareness about the ecological as well as economic and social challenges related to the growth of ICT, such as environmental pollution through the invasive extraction of natural resources, or a monopolization of markets. Accordingly, it is necessary to identify factors that tap the potential of ICT to transform economies and societies in a more sustainable fashion. While this is a complex and multi-faceted problem, one central piece of the puzzle is individual consumption. Using data from a web survey of German smartphone users, this research addresses questions pertaining to the possession and the average useful life of smartphones. Specifically, we are interested in factors hindering people from possessing less ICT devices and extending the devices’ use. Are users aware of environmental problems related to ICT and to what extent does this influence their ICT choices? Is sufficiency in the context of ICT a problem of personal values and consumerism or a technological issue related to accelerated innovation and perceived obsolescence? Building on previous research on sustainable behavior (e.g. Ajzen, 1991; Steg et al., 2014; Stern, 2000; Bamberg et al., 2007), this contribution proposes an integrative model for the sustainable consumption of ICT. Deriving a more thorough understanding of individual ICT use and embedding it into a macro-economic and political context enables us to weigh alternatives and devise measures towards more economically sound ICT-based economies.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Sustainable smartphone consumption from a rational and value-based perspective “ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.