To repair or not to repair: an investigation of the factors influencing prosumer repair propensity
thesisposted on 17.12.2019, 11:15 by Marie Lefebvre
The Circular Economy is a sustainable system of production and consumption that aims to minimise waste, emissions and energy leakages through a closed system. Repair is one of the strategies to facilitate the transition towards the Circular Economy (CE). Repair is also a behaviour that the prosumer can adopt and enact in collaboration with other citizens in society. The inclination to repair, called explicitly in this thesis, ‘the prosumer’s propensity to repair’ is influenced and affected by a myriad of complex and inter-related elements. Those elements need to be further investigated to support the actors involved in the transition towards the CE to develop interventions to support the prosumer to repair further.
The investigation was set in an extreme case scenario by choosing to engage with individuals who, by their affiliation with pro-environmental organisations, appear to be more inclined to engage with pro-environmental behaviours. The investigation focuses on them trying to repair small electrical items because there have been conflicting results in previous research, on the extent to which environmental concerns influence Prosumer Repair Propensity.
The literature explores Repair as an activitiy to be embraced by prosumers and strategy to facilitate the transition towards a CE. The review discusses the role, and capacity of the prosumers in to both produce and consume value to support the transition. The literature explores the role of Design in developing solutions to extend product lifespan and to influence prosumer behaviour. The literature in the field of Design for Sustainable Behaviour emphasises the significance of investigating prosumer behaviour before developing interventions. As a result, the literature reviews past research on the factors influencing Prosumer Repair Propensity and behavioural frameworks that could support the investigation. The Theory of Trying and the Transtheoretical model of Change are selected as tools for understanding prosumer repair behaviour as a multi-dimensional object.
Two studies are undertaken to meet the research objectives set out for the investigation. Two hundred and eight respondents completed a survey for the Survey study. For the Prosumer study, 10 participants completed a survey, a semi-structured interview and two video-elicitation exercises.
The analysis and integration of the findings from the Survey study and Prosumer study helped to consolidate five sets of findings. The first set of findings presents the range of factors influencing Prosumer Repair Propensity; it includes the most significant factors to support the engagement with repair practice and the most critical factors to successfully repair an item. The second set of findings examines the attitudes towards trying to repair. The third set of findings presents the processes of change affecting the prosumer to repair. The fourth and fifth set of findings presents the repair process and considers how the factors and attitudes influence the prosumer at different stages of the repair process. From the findings, suggestions are given on the prosumer actions that can be adopted to support the transition towards the CE. The thesis finally closes on the limitations of the research project and recommends areas for further research to support the prosumer to change.