Purdue University Graduate School

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The Sustainability Revolution

posted on 2024-04-24, 18:15 authored by Amy Alexandra FariaAmy Alexandra Faria

Sustainability has become a global movement that has fundamentally shaped and dictated the social climate of the twenty-first century. So much so that it has taken on revolution-like characteristics that would indicate that we are now in the sustainability revolution. Empirical evidence of this, however, is lacking. Through two studies, this dissertation examines and attempts to provide foundational support for the existence of a sustainability revolution. In study one, what sustainability means in the eyes of industry and brands is explored and study two explores sustainability through the lens of the consumer.

In study one, context and thematic analysis were used to analyze corporate annual reports of six most influential brands from food companies and apparel. Results revealed six themes in the data that aligned with all three pillars of sustainability. Most notably, however, most themes mapped onto the social and economic pillar, contrary to the environmental efforts that have been the focus in research and in industry alike in the past. Future research is encouraged to expand the sample size and confirm these themes with quantitative methods.

In study two, a survey was conducted among a US sample to understand individuals’ emotions and motivations, that would dictate their likelihood to engage with a brand and their perceptions on sustainability issues. Structural Equation Modeling was employed to test the viability of a conceptual model and understand how political affiliations and religious/spiritual identification would influence these relationships. Results indicated that the type of sustainability issue matters in whether emotions and motivations influence the likelihood to engage with a brand. Furthermore, whether someone affiliates with democratic ideologies or republic ideologies also impacts the conceptual model. Religious/spiritual identification also showed differences within the conceptual model where those that were religious/spiritual had different motivations to engage with a brand across different sustainability issues.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Consumer Science

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Jiyun Kang

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Wookjae Heo

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Karen Byrd

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Woo Jin Choi

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