Marylyn Carrigan, Victoria Wells, Navdeep Athwal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To develop a deeper understanding of what (un)sustainable food behaviours and values are transmitted across generations, to what extent this transference happens and the sustainability challenges resulting from this for individuals and households.
25 semi-structured in-depth interviews are analysed regarding the value of inherited food, family food rituals, habits and traditions, aspects of food production and understanding of sustainability.
Intergenerational transferences are significant in shaping (un)sustainable consumption throughout life, and those passed-on behaviours and values offer opportunities for lifelong sustainable change and food consumption reappraisal in daily life, beyond early years parenting, and across diverse households.
Participants were limited to British families, although the sample drew on multiple ethnic heritages. Future research could study collectivist versus more individualistic cultural influence; explore intergenerational transference of other diverse households such as multigeneration or in rural and urban locations, or whether sustainable crossover derived from familial socialization continues into behaviours and values beyond food.
The findings show the importance of families and intergenerational transference to the embedding of sustainable consumption behaviours. Mundane family life is a critical source of sustainable learning, and marketers should prioritise understanding of the context and relationships that drive sustainable consumer choices. Opportunities for intentional and unintentional sustainable learning exist throughout life, and marketers and policy makers can both disrupt unsustainable and encourage sustainable behaviours with appropriate interventions, such as nostalgic or wellbeing communications. The paper sheds light on flexible sustainable identities, and how ambivalence or accelerated lives can deflect how policy messages are received, preventing sustainable choices.
Our findings provide greater understanding about the mechanisms responsible for the sustainable transformation of consumption habits suggesting intergenerational transferences are significant in shaping (un)sustainable food consumption throughout life. The study shows secondary socialisation can play a critical role in the modification of early behaviour patterns of food socialisation. We found individuals replicate food behaviours and values from childhood, but through a process of lifelong learning can break formative habits, particularly with reverse socialisation influences that prioritise sustainable behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Mar 2023

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