Title: Housing, public policy and the environment in a historical perspective: lessons from Swedish post-war society

Authors: Kristina Söderholm

Addresses: IES/History of Technology, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå 971 87, Sweden

Abstract: From a European perspective, housing-related expenses of Swedish households have increased considerably in real terms since the 1950s. Given that households through these consumption patterns contribute to a major share of the country's emissions of harmful substances and waste, e.g. through energy use, a qualitative analysis of critical explanations over time to the increase in housing-related expenses is motivated. This paper identifies and explores the emergence of a number of socio-technical structures and systems with important explanatory value in this context. It is concluded that the housing-related consumption of the average post-war Swedish household is strongly embedded in physical structures, which, to a considerable extent, can be explained by public intervention and policy traditions in the past. This opens up vital avenues for contemporary policy, aiming for behavioural change; however, a fundamental prerequisite for the government wishing to motivate more sustainable consumption must be to be conscious about its own historically determined role in this context.

Keywords: housing; post-war society; Sweden; public policy; sustainable society; historical perspective; household consumption patterns; hazardous substances; waste; energy use; harmful emissions; environmental pollution; socio-technical systems; public intervention; behavioural change; government role; sustainable consumption; sustainability.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSSOC.2013.050533

International Journal of Sustainable Society, 2013 Vol.5 No.1, pp.24 - 42

Available online: 01 Nov 2012

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