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HOMO ECOLOGICUS: DAILY PRO-ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICES AS AN ATTRIBUTE OF THE MODERN SUBJECT IN THE UNDERSTANDING OF YOUNG MUSCOVITES

Daria Lebedeva (dlebedeva@hse.ru)

National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Moscow, Russia

Citation: Lebedeva D. (2021) Chelovek ekologicheskiy: povsednevnyye praktiki zaboty ob okruzhayushchey srede kak atribut sovremennogo sub"yekta v predstavleniyakh molodykh moskvichey [Homo ecologicus: daily pro-environmental practices as an attribute of the modern subject in the understanding of young Muscovites]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 24(2): 110–143 (in Russian). https://doi.org/10.31119/jssa.2021.24.2.5

Abstract. This paper deals with the problem of the youth engagement in everyday pro-environmental practices. Reconceptualization of the relationship between nature and society, the increase of environmental problems and their active public discussion encourage individuals to change their everyday practices, embedding in them the principles of careful, responsible attitude to the environment. Unlike many developed countries, in Russia the environmental agenda remains on the periphery of public debate and civic involvement. Still, there is a group of citizens who are more responsive to environmental issues and values, being proactive in daily pro-environmental behaviour. It is largely represented by young people under 30 years old who are ready to put efforts into caring for the environment despite the wasteful attitudes towards nature, poorly developed ecological culture and infrastructure, dominant in the Russian public discourse. In this regard, the present study raises up the question of what, according to the understanding of young people, motivates them to participate in the daily practices of caring for the environment. Aiming to reconstruct the core justifications which young people apply to their everyday ecological practices from the perspective of their life experience, the qualitative methodology is applied. The results of the research are based on the 26 semi-structured in-depth interviews with young Muscovites aged 16–30 years old, collected and analyzed by strategy of grounded theory. Obtained results showed that in the perceptions of young people, environmental engagement is a crucial moral and pragmatic norm of the modern social order, and the individual’s awareness in relations with the environment, while maintaining the rhetoric of anthropocentrism, expresses the stewardship as an active responsibility. For young people, ecological activity constitutes an attribute of the ‘good person’ of modernity homo ecologicus, marking one’s values and lifestyle. By personal practices of caring for the environment they acquire agency and comprehend themselves and their place in the world. Yearning to the ideal modern social actor homo ecologicus, young people constitute their subjectivity.

Keywords: environmental sociology; pro-environmental practices; ecological behavior; agency; subjectivity; grounded theory; qualitative research.

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