Exploring the Social Dynamics of Proenvironmental Behavior Change

A Comparative Study of Intervention Processes at Home and Work


Address correspondence to
Michael Nye
School of Environmental Sciences
University of East Anglia
Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK


This article explores the intrinsic role of context in shaping the course and outcomes of interventions aimed at changing environmentally significant behavior in home and workplace settings. Drawing on sociological theories of symbolic interactionism, we evaluate the social dynamics and mechanisms of two similar, team-based behavior change interventions at work (Environment Champions) and at home (EcoTeams). The analysis shows that the interventions open up different levels of opportunity for reviewing and renegotiating new environmentally friendly behaviors against the reactions and expectations of the immediate peer group, existing workplace or domestic roles, and the situation-specific definitions of what counts as appropriate behavior in the home and the workplace. We argue that policy studies should pay greater attention to the processes of behavior change, or the contextually sensitive relationship between interventions and outcomes, as a step toward refining or streamlining interventions aimed at changing environmentally significant behavior.