Sustainability and Middle-class Consumption in Brazil, China, and South Africa

Dorothea Kleine


Sustainable food consumption spaces and practices in the global South are of critical importance yet remain under-researched and poorly understood because most studies assume that ethical consumers are situated in the global North. Expanding middle class consumption in global South countries is seen simultaneously as providing a potential stimulus to global economic growth and a threat to environmental sustainability.

This ERSC- funded large research project evaluates the mobilisation and practice of sustainable consumption in the global South through an examination of systems of food provision and regulation, everyday consumer habits, and trends and fashions in food consumption drawing on three case studies: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Guangzhou, China; Johannesburg, South Africa. To do so, it applies an ambitious mixed methodology of digital and more traditional methods, including interviews, co-cooking, co-shopping, social media analysis of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, focus groups, and a large-scale survey. 

This ESRC-Funded project is a collaboration between four UK universities and UFRJ Rio, Sun Yat-Sen University Guangzhou and UCT in Cape Town. More information here.