Translating between social worlds of policy and everyday life: The development of a group-based method to support policymaking by exploring behavioural aspects of sustainable consumption

Tom Horlick-Jones, Ana Prades

A large international literature on how lay citizens make sense of various aspects of science and technology has been generated by investigations which utilise small group methods. Within that literature, focus group and other group-based methods have come to co-exist, and to some extent, hybridise, with the use of small groups in citizen engagement initiatives. In this article, we report on how we drew upon these methodological developments in the design and operationalisation of a policymaking support tool (STAVE). This tool has been developed to gain insight, in a relatively speedy and cost-effective way, into practical details of the everyday lived experience of people’s lives, as relating to the sustainability of corresponding practices. An important challenge we faced was how, in Kuhn’s terms, to ‘translate’ between the forms of life corresponding to the world of policymaking and the world of everyday domestic life. We examine conceptual and methodological aspects of how the tool was designed and assembled, and then trialled in the context of active real-world collaborations with policymaking organisations. These trials were implemented in six European countries, where they were used to support work on live policy issues concerned with sustainable consumption.

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