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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1370-1379
JournalJournal of Industrial Ecology
Early online date2 Dec 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Dec 2016


This paper sets out an approach to researching socio-cultural aspects of Product Service Systems (PSS) consumption in consumer markets. PSS are relevant to Industrial Ecology as they may form part of the mix of innovations that move society toward more sustainable material and energy flows.
The paper uses two contrasting case studies drawing on ethnographic analysis, Harley Davidson motorcycles and Zip Car Car Club. The analysis draws on Consumer Culture Theory to explicate the socio-cultural, experiential, symbolic and ideological aspects of these case studies, focusing on product ownership.
The paper shows that ownership of Harley Davidson motorcycles enables riders to identify with a brand community and to define themselves. Owners appropriate their motorcycles through customization. In contrast, Zip Car users resist the company’s attempts to involve them in a brand community, see use of car sharing as a temporary fix and even fear contamination from shared use of cars.
We conclude that iconic products such as Harley Davidson motorcycles create emotional attachment and can challenge PSS propositions. But we also suggest that somewhat standardized products may present similar difficulties. Knowing more about socio-cultural aspects of PSS may help designers overcome these difficulties.


This is the peer-reviewed version of the following article: Catulli, M., Cook, M. and Potter, S. (2016), ‘Product Service Systems Users and Harley Davidson Riders: The Importance of Consumer Identity in the Diffusion of Sustainable Consumption Solutions’, Journal of Industrial Ecology, which has been published in final form at 10.1111/jiec.12518. Under embargo. Embargo end date: 2 December 2018. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving. © 2016 by Yale University

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