Material Geographies of Household Sustainability

Cultural Histories and Geographies Node

Project Convenors: Dr Andrew Gorman-Murray and Dr Ruth Lane


Cultural dimensions of environmental sustainability and climate change are an emerging and critical research concern. The cultural dimension draws attention to the need to understand how people’s everyday activities and material cultures are entwined with environmental and climatic change. A key arena in which these everyday material practices are played out is the home, and hence household sustainability is a vital ingredient in arresting environmental and climate change. In the West, domestic consumption is a significant driver of capitalist development and associated pollution and environmental degradation. There is a need to better understand the cultural values surrounding the development of contemporary housing and the domestic consumption of appliances, furniture, water and energy. In this way informed recommendations about changing domestic practices and materialities, and hence improving everyday household sustainability, can be made.

This type of cultural research benefits from interdisciplinary work drawn from geography, anthropology, sociology, history, design studies, architecture and cultural studies. A focus on everyday material cultures, and calls for individual responsibility and citizenship, bind these diverse perspectives together to bring nuanced insight into household sustainability. This multi-layered, interdisciplinary approach is precisely what the CRN offers. The workshop format of the symposium will enhance interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration, with the aim of promoting ongoing conversations and projects from this catalysing event.

Project Activities

Material Geographies of Household Sustainability: Australia and the UK: A workshop
21 - 22 September, RMIT