Publication Details

Farbotko, C. & Head, L. (2013). Gifts, sustainable consumption and giving up green anxieties at Christmas. Geoforum, 50 88-96.


This paper explores the proposition that gifting is a little recognised yet important practice bound up in the quest for sustainable consumption, which has largely been studied with reference to market rather than gift economies. It draws on gift theories in economic anthropology which explain gifts as engendering social relations of reciprocity and beyond, and shaping social life differently to commodities. Understanding how and why commodities become gifts (and vice versa), we contend, provides a new way of understanding some of the complex ways in which social relations are implicated in sustainable consumption. We use a study of Christmas gifting practices within a group of environmentally engaged households to begin to empirically explore if and how environmental considerations are expressed in the gift economy. We conclude that the fashioning of a particular social identity, namely, the 'green consumer' can operate very differently in the context of gift-exchange than in the context of non-gifting consumption.



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