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Sustainable practices in the minimalist family

Sustainable practices in the minimalist family

A project about socially and ecologically sustainable living

Project information
The project is financed by Formas and runs for three years (2024-2026). It is run by three researchers in sociology at Örebro University:

Jenny Alsarve
(project manager)

Helen Peterson
(participating researcher)

Lisa Elliot
(research assistant)

Do you want to know more about the project and participation in the study? Contact Us!

What does it mean to live a minimalist life as a family? What opportunities and challenges do families face when trying to live minimalisticly? That is what is in focus in this research project.

The minimalist lifestyle often advocates things like reduced consumption and limiting the number of things in order to achieve a simpler everyday life with increased well-being, reduced stress and reduced worries. The large number of blogs, magazine articles and books on the theme of minimalism reflect the increasing popularity of the lifestyle over the past decade. The fact that people today experience a general lack of time, are forced to give up things they would like to do and experience stress in everyday life are possibly some of the explanations why more and more people are interested in a minimalist lifestyle. Women generally experience greater stress in everyday life and also spend more time on housework and care. This could lead to differences between the sexes regarding the motives for living minimalistic but also regarding the responsibility for minimalism in everyday life. It raises questions about how socially sustainable the minimalist lifestyle is, which we investigate in this project. By examining minimalism from the point of view of issues of family, sustainability and everyday life, this project contributes a completely new and unique perspective on minimalism as an increasingly popular lifestyle. We still know very little about the possible transformative potential of the minimalist lifestyle in terms of both well-being at a micro level (for individuals and families) and sustainability at a macro level. An important question in the project is therefore to what extent the minimalist lifestyle is connected with environmental concerns and a desire to live more ecologically sustainably as a family.

Purpose and questions
The purpose of the research project is to make visible what it means to live a minimalist life as a family and what opportunities and challenges it entails, from a socially and ecologically sustainable perspective. Some central questions that the project aims to answer are the following:

  1. What practices must be renegotiated within the family/home and towards the outside world in order for a minimalist lifestyle to be maintained?
  2. Who takes responsibility for these practices and negotiations and what do they mean for the division of labor in the home - and for the family's ecological footprint?

Using a qualitative research approach, the project answers questions like these through interviews with families who try to live minimalistic. Both individual interviews and couple interviews will be conducted. The interviews are estimated to take 60-90 minutes.
There is also the opportunity for those who are interviewed to write a diary about the minimalist everyday life. This enables us to capture changes over time (as we collect diaries from project participants on 3 occasions).

In the project, people are interviewed who are interested in minimalism in everyday life and try to live minimalistic. The project is based on a broad definition of what minimalism can mean and we are primarily interested in how the project participants understand, interpret and apply minimalism in their everyday family life. In this way, the project can access nuances of minimalism and how minimalism is negotiated.

The project's contribution
The project is expected to contribute to knowledge about the minimalist lifestyle, which we still know relatively little about, and not least knowledge about how we can achieve both social and ecological sustainability in the long and short term. The results will be published in scientific journals and also disseminated to a wider audience through various activities. Collaborations with study associations as well as environmental and minimalism groups are central to the project, as is the writing of popular scientific texts. The project contributes knowledge of high relevance to several of the UN's global goals for sustainable development.

Research ethics
In order to answer the questions and fulfill the purpose of the study, qualitative methods are used to generate the empirical material, which are carefully designed to respect the personal integrity of the participants. All information collected in the project is handled only by authorized researchers and is protected by Swedish legislation and the EU's data protection regulation. When publishing research results, we will remove such personal information that risks identifying the project participants.