Hinton, Emma, Bickerstaff, Karen and Bulkeley, Harriet
‘Citizen-practitioners’: the critical path for a low carbon transition?
At Energy and people: Futures, Complexity and Challenges, United Kingdom.
20 - 21 Sep 2011.
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The consumer-citizen is widely identified as a key agent of environmental change in political discourse: individuals are framed as consumers and environmental change as a matter of consumer choice (e.g. Hobson, 2002). Much attention has focused on shaping consumer preferences, targeting individual attitudes and values on the assumption that this will lead to desired behaviours and choices. More recently, there has been a shift in focus towards facilitating the consumption of a range of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies in the home through policy mechanisms such as CERT, CESP and the proposed Green Deal. Criticisms of extant models of behaviour change, and the associated assumptions about individual agency and the drivers of consumption, are now well rehearsed (e.g. Shove, 2010). Yet recent calls for situated accounts of the practices, contexts and material settings of everyday life that enable or disable social transformation have seen only limited empirical application and debate. In this paper, we follow a number of socio-technical (energy efficiency) "experiments? in homes in England and Wales, and explore their consequences for domestic practices and for wider social (and political) transformation. We consider the ways in which a practice-based understanding of the consequences of technological change offers new and productive insights for engaging household(er)s as political subjects and delivering reductions in domestic energy consumption, which may in turn support a transition to a low carbon energy system.
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