Socio-Cultural Approach to Social Marketing: Fostering food waste reduction

Tutkimustuotos: VäitöskirjaCollection of Articles


Marketing holds great potential to steer changes beyond the commercial sphere. Recently, supporting sustainability and sustainable consumption has been referred to as important or even fundamental development for the discipline. Here, the research tradition of social marketing opens a promising avenue with its ultimate purpose being the pursuit for greater social good. The dissertation focuses on one specific context of sustainable consumption, food waste reduction, and how it could be fostered through social marketing.

The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate and conceptualise the socio- cultural approach to social marketing in the context of food waste reduction. While cultural theories and approaches have gained momentum in marketing and consumer research, their use in social marketing is still uncommon. The dissertation is grounded in four articles that take different departures to the research phenomenon. With qualitative methods, the articles investigate the ways in which food waste reduction is fostered in campaigns and the public discussions around them. Empirical attention is focused on social media campaigns, visual materials and online discussions, with an analytical emphasis on socio-cultural meanings, signs and their meanings, and discourses. One article is a conceptual paper that discusses why and how social marketers can support food waste reduction with a practice- theoretical focus.

The dissertation roots its interpretive framework, the socio-cultural approach, in practice theories and understands everyday life as a cultural system of practices. Based on this interpretive framework and the individual articles, the socio-cultural approach is integrated into social marketing. The dissertation concludes with three premises that address the research purpose. The first two premises include statements about how food waste reduction and the role of social marketing are understood within the cultural system of practices. Based on these understandings, the third premise outlines how food waste reduction can be fostered by steering changes in the cultural system of practices.

The dissertation constructs bridges between social marketing, socio-cultural consumer research and food waste research. It primarily contributes to social marketing by broadening its theoretical base and extending its opportunities to foster change. The dissertation also contributes to socio-cultural consumer research and practice theories by generating insights into how changes in the cultural system of practices can be fostered. Furthermore, the dissertation is valuable for the interdisciplinary food waste research stream by extending understanding about possible solutions to the problem.

For social marketing actors, such as non-governmental and governmental actors addressing food waste, the developed conceptualisation provides a valuable thinking tool that can be utilised when planning and assessing initiatives. While derived from the context of food waste reduction, the socio-cultural approach to social marketing can be adapted for other contexts as well and open new routes to understand the problem in question and identify novel opportunities to steer changes.
ISBN (elektroninen)978-952-03-2381-3
TilaJulkaistu - 2022
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Artikkeliväitöskirja


NimiTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (painettu)2489-9860
ISSN (elektroninen)2490-0028


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