The Dynamics of Social Practice

Everyday Life and how it Changes

by Elizabeth Shove, Mika Pantzar, Matt Watson

Everyday life is defined and characterised by the rise, transformation and fall of social practices. Using terminology that is both accessible and sophisticated, this essential book guides the reader through a multi-level analysis of this dynamic.

In working through core propositions about social practices and how they change the book is clear and accessible; real world examples, including the history of car driving, the emergence of frozen food, and the fate of hula hooping, bring abstract concepts to life and firmly ground them in empirical case-studies and new research.

Demonstrating the relevance of social theory for public policy problems, the authors show that the everyday is the basis of social transformation addressing questions such as:
  • how do practices emerge, exist and die?
  • what are the elements from which practices are made?
  • how do practices recruit practitioners?
  • how are elements, practices and the links between them generated, renewed and reproduced?

Precise, relevant and persuasive this book will inspire students and researchers from across the social sciences.

Elizabeth Shove is Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University. Mika Pantzar is Research Professor at the National Consumer Research Centre, Helsinki. Matt Watson is Lecturer in Social and Cultural Geography at University of Sheffield.

  • SAGE Publications; May 2012
  • ISBN: 9781446258170
  • Edition: 1
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure ePub format
  • Title: The Dynamics of Social Practice
  • Author: Elizabeth Shove; Mika Pantzar; Matt Watson
  • Imprint: SAGE Publications Ltd

In The Press

Recent discussions of research "impact" tend to assume that moving from theory to practice is easy. In fact, it is often very hard. Hence it is unsurprising, if apparently paradoxical, that the theory of practice usually appears abstruse and even impractical. Hence, too, the tremendous achievement of The Dynamics of Social Practice. The book not only takes us confidently through the thickets of theory. But, more importantly, with examples that are thoroughly concrete (both metaphorically and quite literally), it allows us to understand how such theory can be brought to bear directly on such pressing and practical problems as climate change
Paul Duguid
Adjunct Professor, School of Information, University of California, Berkeley


The Dynamics of Social Practice, through a series of clever and courageous analytic moves, sets out an innovative framework for understanding the complexities of contemporary social processes. Written in a clear, accessible style and illustrated with a wealth of engaging examples, Shove, Pantzer and Watson successfully accomplish that rare trick of making an important contribution to social theory while also providing a major resource for social policy
Mike Michael
Professor of the Sociology of Science and Technology, Goldsmiths


This remarkable book provides the best available analysis-theoretically trenchant and empirically illuminating-of the dynamics of social life construed as a field of practices and inaugurates the needed process of developing practice-oriented public policy
Theodore Schatzki
Professor of Philosophy, University of Kentucky