Environmental Agency through Social Media: A Mixed Methods Collective Case Study of Families Looking to Adopt Ecologically Responsible Actions as Part of a Private Facebook Group

ID: 52266 Type: Brief Paper
  1. Michel T. Leger and Shawn Martin, Université de Moncton, Canada

Thursday, June 28 3:30-3:50 PM Location: Jordaan 1 View on map

Presider: Kurt Ackermann, Hokusei Gakuen University Junior College, Japan

Abstract: Adopting a sustainable lifestyle represents a difficult challenge. This mixed methods collective case study looks to explore the adoption of ecological actions in the family, a context of socioecological transformation rarely examined in social science. Taking into account the popular use of social media today, this study seeks understanding the potential role of Facebook in promoting environmental action. In other words, for families who are intent on living sustainably, could the use of social media positively affect the way members relate to their environment and bring about real change in their daily actions? To answer this question, we recruited 45 urban families and divided them into two distinct groups. The first group of families attempted to lower their household electrical bill as part of a private Facebook group, while the other aimed to do the same, but without the directed use of social media. For both groups, we compared the quantity of kilowatt-hours used during the project to those used for the same months in the previous year, adjusting for temperature variations. Both groups showed lower electricity consumption. We also conducted exit interviews to understand the processes of ecocitizenship development in the context of family. Our qualitative results seem to suggest that both a virtual social network and one-on-one support can help increase collective environmental awareness, but family engagement and child participation were higher in the Facebook group.

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