• Ambivalent storage, multi-scalar generosity, and challenges of/for everyday consumption

      Collins, Rebecca; Stanes, Elyse; University of Chester; University of Wollongong (Routledge, 2021-09-05)
      Storage plays an important role in domestic practices as a banal yet essential means of practically accomplishing ‘living together’ and caring for people and material ‘stuff’. However, storage and stored things also occupy a provocative and paradoxical place in debates around the sustainability of household consumption. Driven by renewed popular and scholarly attention to ‘decluttering’ and eschewing anything that does not ‘spark joy’, this paper considers the emotional and practical implications of generosity – as both concept and practice – in articulating the sustainability potential in storage and stored things. In so doing we problematise assumptions about ‘clutter’ as unsustainable. Drawing on vignettes from two projects concerned with material consumption in young adulthood, and drawing on – but going beyond – extant framings of geographies of care, we illustrate how shifting spatial and temporal liminalities of storage mediate opportunities to engage in and with different scales of generosity. We argue that spatialities of storage are often less about deferring acts of divestment than they are a space in which to situate materialisations of significant emotional, care-ful(l) connections. We reflect on the implications of storage for sustainable consumption in the home and suggest how future work drawing on geographies of generosity might usefully enrich our understanding.
    • ‘Are we losing our way?’ Navigational aids, socio-sensory way-finding and the spatial awareness of young adults

      McCullough, David; Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Wiley, 2018-07-26)
      Recent advances in the accessibility and reliability of mobile technologies, roaming services and associated data have led to an increased usage of modern navigational devices using Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). This paper reports on a study which explored concerns about over-reliance upon these navigational technologies, specifically amongst young people in the Global North. Based on an experiment in which participants were asked to navigate a series of different (unfamiliar) routes on foot, using different navigational technologies each time, we argue that routes navigated are more memorable, and the process of way-finding is more enjoyable, when navigational tools/methods enable sensory and social interactions. GNSS aids, though claimed by participants as their preferred navigational aid, were the least enabling in this regard. We conclude that, whilst concerns about young people’s way-finding abilities may be overstated, the importance of sensory and social interactions with(in) environments might usefully be borne in mind in the development of future GNSS aids and locative media.
    • Auto-ethnography: Managing Multiple Embodiments in the Life Drawing Class

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Manchester University Press, 2020-04-30)
      There has been growing interest in the role of sketching, drawing, and other forms of artistic and/or creative practice as a research method within (and beyond) the social sciences. In such projects researchers have been firmly, often deeply, embedded in their practice, either as long-standing practitioners of their chosen art or craft, or as curious newcomers. In this chapter I consider how auto-ethnography, as a state of ‘reflexive-thinking-being’, employed here within a space of artistic activity (life drawing classes), has enabled me to explore geographies of bodies, nudity, sexuality and intimacy by moving – physically, conceptually and recursively – between moments of the mundane to instances of the spectacular. Consideration of how touch, smell, gesture, as well as different kinds of looking – all of which are fundamental to the work and practice of a life class – is drawn into an analysis of how the act of (re)producing bodies, inside and outside the life class, mediates body-space relations.
    • Children and Environment

      Hayward, Bronwyn; Collins, Rebecca; Nissen, Sylvia (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2017-03-06)
    • Collaborative individualization? Peer-to-peer action in youth transitions

      Cuzzocrea, Valentina; Collins, Rebecca; University of Cagliari ; University of Chester (SAGE, 2015-04-23)
      In this paper we propose the notion of collaborative individualization (henceforth, C.I.) as a means of characterizing young people’s attempts to define their identities as simultaneously self-reliant and in need of support and collaboration. Our arguments are based on the findings of a transnational case study: a recent Council of Europe policy project called Edgeryders, an online platform whose participants were invited to discuss their experience of attempting to achieve “fully independent adulthood”. In light of findings which suggest that individualization amongst the young might take forms which are more collaborative than self-focused, we argue that youth scholars ought to rethink the assumptions made about the nature of individualization in youth transitions. We propose that such theorizations should embrace the potential described by C.I. in order to provide constructive responses to young people’s changing socio-economic needs, and refocus attention on young people’s situatedness within the communities many are demonstrably committed to working with and for.
    • Excessive but not wasteful? Youth cultures of everyday waste (avoidance)

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (SAGE, 2019-08-26)
      This article contributes to ongoing debates around the cultural production of waste by arguing for a clearer distinction between concepts of ‘waste’ and ‘excess’, and by suggesting the benefits of this distinction for tackling the perceived consumer-cultural waste ‘problem’. Drawing on recent qualitative research with UK adolescents I consider how a range of (youth/consumer) cultural drivers, social norms and moral imperatives shape young people’s everyday material consumption practices in ways that reflect (and produce) varied ways of (de/re-)valuing no-longer-wanted possessions. By exploring the cultural projects within which the young participants and their material possessions were engaged, and by identifying their aims in employing specific keeping and ridding practices, noteworthy differences between ‘waste’ and ‘excess’ materialise. I suggest that the drivers of the ‘excesses’ identified – characterised here in terms of ‘outgrowings’ and ‘hedging’ – highlight a set of distinctly cultural challenges to be met if the slippage of materials from ‘excess’ into ‘waste’ is to be averted. I contend that acknowledging these challenges, and these conceptual distinctions, may prove beneficial in attempts to address some of the societal challenges (e.g. material novelty as a driver of social status) related to the production of waste.
    • Fashion acolytes or environmental saviours? When will young people have had ‘enough’?

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-10-01)
      In the global north, high rates of material consumption show few signs of abating, despite oft-repeated warnings of dire social and environmental consequences. Environmental educators have identified young people as a potentially effective group of change agents, capable of driving a transformative shift in how we consume. Yet this picture of the young environmental ‘saviour’ is at odds with many Western young people’s thirst for the ‘latest’ fashions and trends. This chapter explores how young people themselves make sense of this apparent contradiction. Exploring under-researched questions around young people’s conceptualisations of, and affective and embodied responses to, the notion of ‘enough’, it highlights the cultural and contextual factors which could prove decisive in positioning the notion of ‘enough’ centrally in a sustainability-compatible youth material culture.
    • Great Games and Keeping it Cool: New political, social and cultural geographies of young people’s environmental activism

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2020-11-30)
      Drawing on recent framings of young people’s environmental activism as a ‘game’, alongside long-standing characterisations of youth as responsibilised environmental change-agents, in this Viewpoint I identify fertile research opportunities in the liminal spaces between moments of young people’s action and the political and socio-cultural spaces through which those actions (might) diffuse. I argue that youth geographers should take care to engage critically with young activists’ actions, as well as wider political and cultural responses to them, in order to avoid furthering problematic ‘sustainability saviour’ framings of youth.
    • Inadvertent environmentalism and the action–value opportunity: reflections from studies at both ends of the generational spectrum

      Hitchings, Russell; Collins, Rebecca; Day, Rosie; University College London; University of Chester; University of Birmingham (Routledge, 2013-11-22)
      A recent turn towards a more contextually sensitive apprehension of the challenge of making everyday life less resource hungry has been partly underwritten by widespread evidence that the environmental values people commonly profess to hold do not often translate into correspondingly low impact actions. Yet sometimes the contexts of everyday life can also conspire to make people limit their consumption without ever explicitly connecting this to the environmental agenda. This paper considers this phenomenon with reference to UK studies from both ends of the generational spectrum. The first questioned how older people keep warm at home during winter and the second examined how young people get rid of no longer wanted possessions. Both found that, though the respondents involved were acting in certain ways that may be deemed comparatively low impact, they were hitherto relatively indifferent to the idea of characterising these actions as such. We outline three ways in which sustainability advocates might respond to the existence of such “inadvertent environmentalists” and consider how they might inspire studies that generate fresh intervention ideas instead of lingering on the dispiriting recognition that people do not often feel able to act for the environment.
    • Keeping it in the family: Refocusing household sustainability

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2015-01-24)
      Recent research on how best to support the development of pro-environmental behaviours has pointed towards the household as the scale at which interventions might be most effectively targeted. While pro-environmental behaviour research has tended to focus on the actions of adults, almost one-third of UK households also include children and teenagers. Some research has suggested that young people are particularly adept at exerting influence on the ways in which the household as a whole consumes. Yet this influence is not only one-way; parents continue to have direct input into the ways in which their children relate to and interact with the objects of consumption (such as personal possessions) through routine processes including acquisition, use, keeping and ridding. In this paper I draw on qualitative research with British teenagers to highlight how young people and their parents interact when managing household material consumption. I use this discussion to suggest that promoters of sustainability might increase the efficacy of their efforts by engaging households as complex family units, where individual household members’ distinct priorities are linked by shared familial values, and where family-based group identity is used to encourage shared commitment to lower-impact living.
    • New-Old Jeans or Old-New Jeans? Contradictory aesthetics and sustainability paradoxes in young people’s clothing consumption

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (TU Berlin, 2019-11-30)
      This paper reports on an ongoing research project exploring the role of aesthetics – particularly aesthetics related to the multiple meanings of ageing – in young people’s interventions in the material lives of their clothes. Provoked by the trend for ‘pre-aged’ jeans, this study interrogates how material manifestations of the passing of time shape young consumers’ relationships with their clothes. Specifically, this enquiry focuses on the multiple, intersecting and sometimes contradictory aesthetics of aged garments. It examines the extent to which – and circumstances in which – young consumers view the visible lived history of their garments as positive, and the role played by personal manual interventions (e.g. acts of repair, customization, upcycling or repurposing) in transforming an un(der)loved and un(der)used item into one with heightened forms of value. Drawing on practice-based workshop-interviews with around 20 18-22 year olds, this research seeks to contribute to emerging debates around sustainability, consumer agency and ownership in relation to the consumption of fashion.
    • A Sustainable Future in the Making? The Maker Movement, the Maker-Habitus and Sustainability

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Routledge, 2018-04-06)
      Recent years have seen the emergence of what has been termed a new ‘maker movement’. Alternately cast either as an essentially new mode of engagement with the practices and potentialities of making instigated by the development of new technologies, or a (re)turn to the fundamentals and rewards of traditional crafts, opportunities to practice making in an array of forms are increasingly widespread. Whilst there has been some (limited) acknowledgement of the role a (re)valorisation of making might play in a more environmentally sustainable material culture (e.g. Brook 2012), how such connections might be made and supported has remained unexplored. This chapter draws on both theoretical and empirical sources in order to articulate a conceptual ‘maker-habitus’ – an embodied orientation to the material world characterised by an interest in material (re)production. I argue that fundamental to the ‘maker-habitus’ is a particularly acute affordance sensitivity – that is, an ability to identify the potentialities of materials and material things. Recent empirical work is used to illustrate this notion at work and, in turn, to suggest that increasing societal support for the proliferation of such sensibilities might be key to eliciting a more environmentally sustainable everyday material culture.
    • Youth transitions as ‘wiki-transitions’ in youth policies platforms

      Cuzzocrea, Valentina; Collins, Rebecca; Universita degli Studi di Cagliari; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2019-11-21)
      In recent years, a number of youth-focused online platforms have emerged which, in different ways, seek to support young people across Europe in building pathways to independent adulthood. In this article, we draw on data from Edgeryders, a recent youth policy research project, to reflect on the extent to which online discussion platforms are useful instruments for understanding the challenges youth face in their transitions to independent adulthood across Europe. Noting the collaborative emphasis articulated by both the project designers and participants, we ask how we might make sense of the data – and the meanings conveyed by that data – produced by online projects. We propose the notion of ‘wiki-transitions’ as a means of theorising young people’s use of online space to support their transitions to adulthood.