Social practices of using and replacing electronic devices

PhD project by Tamina Hipp

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Product longevity is a decisive factor for sustainability – especially for electronic devices – yet products often see shorter lifespans. Despite full functionality, electronic devices are often replaced if new models are available that offer additional functions or a new design.  This PhD project investigates the interplay of consumer practices and related narratives by “making” the product lifetimes. Based on practice theory the focus is on the practical function of narratives within the network of social practices. The aim is to understand how electronic devices come to be replaced and how long lifetimes can be promoted. In the transdisciplinary PhD project, not only the user perspective is explored, but also the experiences of experts from NGOs, political agencies, institutions and lobby groups in addressing consumers are taken into account.

The methodological design includes problem-focused interviews and group discussions with consumers, expert interviews, and two quantitative representative surveys (CAPI and CAWI). The study is part of the interdisciplinary research group Obsolescence ( funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. 

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