Department of Sociology
Norah MacKendrick’s research falls within the fields of environmental sociology, gender, and political sociology. She studies the shift toward green consumerism in response to growing public awareness of chemical ‘body burdens.’
Her work identifies the rise of “precautionary consumption”—an individualized response to potentially harmful chemicals found in everyday consumer products and foods. She finds that women, and new mothers in particular, feel responsible for protecting their children from exposure to these chemicals, and do so through food work, shopping, and management of the household. Women’s burden of responsibility to manage family-level chemical exposures corresponds to considerable skepticism in the capacity of government institutions to monitor chemical producers and initiate environmental improvements.
This research contributes to a growing debate on the potential for green consumerism to replace more traditional approaches to controlling environmental pollution, such as greater regulatory stringency and social movement advocacy.