Inderscience Publishers

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

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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

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