Environmental sociology; Cultural sociology; Sustainable and green consumption; Civic engagement; Food; Gender; Qualitative Methods.
My research program is inspired by my curiosity with human-environmental relationships. Within this general area, I use empirical evidence to explore two broad questions. First, what motivates civic engagement in efforts to protect the environment? Second, how do pro-environmental practices reflect and reproduce social differences? I engage these broad questions in the following specific areas, each of which involve multiple research projects.
- Household-level Sustainable Consumption. Over the past decade, I have conducted city-level, province-level, and national-level surveys as well as qualitative interviews to understand Canadian environmental practices. Key themes emerging from these projects include the observation that those who engage most frequently in pro-environmental behaviours (like recycling and buying organic food) have high levels of carbon dioxide emissions, and evidence that more than environmental values, it is our access to green systems of provision (e.g., public transit, curb-side recycling) that explain our commitment to a green lifestyle. Recently, I collaborated with Christine Horne (Washington State) to conduct vignette experiments to explore the use of social norms for encouraging reductions in household energy consumption.
- Alternative Food Initiatives. Together with co-investigators Josée Johnston (Toronto) and John Parkins (Alberta), I collected interview and observational data from leaders of eat-local initiatives in three Canadian cities. This project identified the drivers of local food projects across Canada, described the type of engagement animating these food initiatives, and evaluated the environmental and social impacts of local food movements. Currently, I am collaborating with Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann (Toronto) on a qualitative project examining motivations behind emerging alternatives to industrial meat production in Canada.
- Gender, Politics and Social Class in Environmentalism. Most recently, I have used secondary survey data and extensive interview data from international and U.S. samples to describe and understand the ways that pro-environmental practices reproduce gender differences and symbolic boundaries between people in different social classes. Among the diverse findings emerging from this cluster of projects are (1) that the relationship between household-level pro-environmental behaviour and labour force participation/status is different for women than it is for men; (2) that while conservatives tend to undervalue environmental protection compared with liberals, conservatives and liberals place similar value on renewable energy (though for different reasons); and (3) that low environmental impact lifestyles (e.g., living in a small home, not owning a vehicle) are granted social status—but only for wealthy families, not low-income families.
Together, these projects position me among a group of innovators within environmental sociology examining the reciprocal relationships between culture, gender and class boundaries, and individual-level mainstream environmental protection.
Selected Research Grants
|2018-2020||UBC Hampton Research Fund.Measuring environmental beliefs, preferences, and practices.|
|2018||National Science Foundation’s Time-Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS).Accidental environmentalists: measuring the impact of social class on status awards to green behaviours.|
Asterisk indicates student co-author
Books and Edited Volumes
Kennedy, E.H., Maurie J. Cohen and Naomi T. Krogman (editors). 2016. Putting Sustainability into Practice: Applications and Advances in the Study of Sustainable Consumption. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Chapter One: Social Practice Theories and Research on Sustainable Consumption. E.H. Kennedy, M.J. Cohen and N.T. Krogman.
Chapter Three: Environmental Civic Practices: Synthesizing Individual and Collective Sustainable Consumption. E.H. Kennedy and *T. Bateman.
Chapter Eleven: Lessons Learned and Future Agendas: N.T. Krogman, M.J. Cohen, and E.H. Kennedy.
Kennedy, Emily H. and Jennifer Givens. 2019. From powerlessness to eco-habitus: Reconsidering environmental concern as class and identity performance. Sociological Perspectives. https://doi.org/10.1177/0731121419836966.
Kennedy, Emily H., Shyon Baumann, and Josée Johnston. 2018. Eating for taste and eating for change: Ethical consumption as a high-status practice. Social Forces. https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/soy113.
Kennedy, Emily H., and Julie A. Kmec. 2018. Is there an “ideal feeder”? How healthy and eco-friendly consumption choices impact judgments of parents. Agriculture and Human Values. 36(1): 137-151.
Horne, Christine, and Emily H. Kennedy. 2018. Explaining support for renewable energy: Commitments to self-sufficiency and communion.Environmental Politics. DOI: 10.1080/09644016.2018.1517917.
Kennedy, Emily H., Josée Johnston and John R. Parkins. 2018. Small-p politics: How pleasurable, convivial, and pragmatic political ideals influence engagement in eat-local initiatives. British Journal Of Sociology. 69(3): 670-690.
Kennedy, Emily H. and Julie A. Kmec. 2018.Reinterpreting the gender gap in household pro-environmental behaviour. Environmental Sociology. 4(3): 299-310.
Kennedy, Emily H., John R. Parkins, and Josée Johnston. 2018. Food activists, consumer strategies, and the democratic imagination: Insights from eat-local movements. Journal of Consumer Culture 18(1): 149-168.
Kennedy, Emily H. and Amanda D. Boyd. 2018. Gendered citizenship and the individualization of environmental responsibility: Evaluating a campus common reading program.Environmental Education Research. 24(2): 191-206.