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Energy Conservation and Rural Alternative Lifestyles

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Social Problems, Number 28, p.165-178 (1980)



Exploration of the energy consumption pattern of a northern California "homesteading" population reveals a very low level of energy use in this group compared to the general population nationwide, including the latter's poorest segments. Several possible interpretations of this pattern of apparent "voluntary simplicity" are critically compared. Social scientists as well as participants are inclined to offer either functional or historical interpretations of alternative settlements or ways of life, and in doing so tend to neglect the social movement characteristics and the social construction of lifestyles. Some policy implications of this research are noted.