Understanding how societies change is core business for the social sciences and there is no shortage of theories about how transitions come about. Despite this reservoir of ideas, efforts to promote more sustainable patterns of consumer behaviour draw upon a remarkably narrow range of conceptual resources. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the potential and the relevance of paradigms that lie outside the dominant discourses and traditions of economics and psychology. The method is to detail the implications of a handful of key propositions anchored in a ‘strong’ interpretation of practice theory. By organising this discussion around an invented conversation between a fictional policy-maker and an equally fictional social scientist, the paper explores further questions regarding the role of social theory and evidence in contemporary policy.