• Open Access

Future visioning for sustainable household practices: spaces for sustainability learning?



Despite widely articulated concerns about unsustainable production and consumption processes, governance interventions have led to only incremental shifts in routinised production and consumption behaviour, particularly within households of western, industrialised societies. In response, techniques of future visioning have been mooted as more ambitious governing mechanisms that could help to liberate policymakers and other stakeholders from current patterns of disjointed incrementalism in the field of sustainable production and consumption. At the heart of these claims is the assertion that visioning promotes learning that can lead to the emergence of innovative approaches to sustainability challenges from problem redefinition to practical action. This paper examines the extent to which participatory visioning creates spaces for sustainable learning using empirical evidence from workshops focused on transforming household consumption practices in Ireland. It is concluded that participatory visioning approaches do provide supportive physical places and intellectual spaces for personal and collaborative learning with regard to potential sustainability transformations. The bounded nature of the particular workshops examined, in terms of duration, focus and participants, means that embedding such learning within wider organisational structures and practices is likely to be a much less certain process that, if it does occur, will unfold over longer timescales and in unpredictable ways.