Change, innovation and energy demand reduction: community led initiatives as examined through the lens of energy biographies


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  • CRC –EES = Carbon Reduction Commitment - Energy Efficiency Scheme
  • So in terms of our methods we have adopted this case site approach to help us look at different community configurations - and because we want to get an in-depth understanding of energy use as part of lived experience and over time we’re adopting a biographical and longitudinal approach to our interviews - We have two phases- because we wanted to look at a diverse sample of circumstances and experiences across very different community contexts we have a larger first round of interviews with 30 people in each area (Cardiff, London, Pembrokeshire- which is divided up differently according to the different specific case sites)- these interviews will not be full biographical interviews partly because of the numbers involved but rather what we call episodic narrative interviews where we’ll ask people to tell stories about different aspects of their daily lives as well as their past and imagined futures. From these initial interviews we plan to select a subsample of participants to take part in longitudinal research- this will involve two further interviews over a period of approximately a year at 5/6 and 10/12 months from the first interview- we intend to use a range of different exercises in between as during these interviews to encourage engagement with and reflection on the issues – This is the broad design as we envisaged it in our proposal but the exact form this will take is still very much open and this is something that we’d like to get your input on the development of as we move through today-
  • Change, innovation and energy demand reduction: community led initiatives as examined through the lens of energy biographies

    1. 1. Change, innovation and energy demandreduction: community led initiatives asexamined through the lens of energybiographiesKaren Henwood, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University.Presented at Constructing Narrative Continuities and ChangesConference, Canterbury Christ Church University, May 12th 2012
    2. 2. Introduction• Report (early stages) UK Research Project “Energy biographies: Understanding the dynamics of energy use for demand reduction”• Local community energy demand reduction initiatives & building knowledge around energy transitions & sustainable futures• Shared concern – narrative continuities & changes
    3. 3. Key problematic & approach• Public policy seeking to effect change poses difficult challenges to every living• Personal inconvenience, discomfort, ambivalence despite social and moral approval for protecting against environmental/climate change mitigation/sustainable futures• Community partnerships & innovative biographical approach – called energy biographies (• Lock into energy intensive practices & lifestyles• Little knowledge of life transitions – impact on energy use
    4. 4. Long Term Project Aspiration “creating empirical and conceptual spacesfor making visible people‟s everyday energypractices & reflecting on community leddemand reduction intervention, to enablepeople to engage with transformationstowards more sustainable futures “
    5. 5. Previous Narrative Research• Exploration of the value of narrative elicitation methods• Henwood, Karen; Pidgeon, Nick; Parkhill, Karen & Simmons, Peter (2010). Researching Risk: Narrative, Biography, Subjectivity [43 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum:Qualitative Social Research, 11(1), Art. 20. Reprinted in Historical Social Research, 2011, 36 (4).
    6. 6. Value of narrative elicitation methods• Biographical & temporal extensions• Reflexivity as interviewees account for changing time & place coordinates of their lives (Tulloch & Lupton, 2003)• Episodic narratives & personal event narratives• Everyday affects• What is intangible becomes researchable
    7. 7. Links between narrative & discoursestudies• Textual and contextual• Identification of structural features of narrative• Figures of speech, vivid images, metaphors, humorous remarks• Subject positions, available & imagined• Researching socio-cultural change : ▫ Dynamics (change & inertia) ▫ Contested cultural ideas & social realities ▫ How they play out in people‟s lives
    8. 8. Energy Biographies - questions forstudying innovation & change• how do people narrate their experiences relating to energy use in their everyday lives• study of personal investments made in services that use energy (travel, domestic appliances, technology more generally)• how are these personal investments established through the lifecourse.
    9. 9. Ideas from temporal & lifecoursestudies• Wary of snapshot approach• Narratives are temporally organised & lives are storied• Engaging with life stories as part of ongoing social process (Greene, 2003)• BUT QL study for studying dynamic unfolding in and through time• Change can take time to occur, (un)intended effects of interventions and policies
    10. 10. What QL allows energy biographiesproject• To examine people‟s reflections upon energy practices – do they alter or remain unchanged when engaging with community energy demand reduction interventions?• Crafting change processes• Local cultures• How given substance• Non linear, microlevel processes – change in the making• Practice in the making
    11. 11. • Build own • More deprived • More • One of the Peterston-Super-ElyTir-Y-Gafel Ely & Caerau eco-homes urban affluent largest London • 75% basic community suburb of employers in Cardiff SW London needs from • Population: • 700,00 their land 28000 • Goal of patients a • Some desire • Community improving year to upscale to voluntary org local • Subject to help urban • Promoting environment CRC –EES sustainability sustainable & make life • Carbon living & in the village management addressing more & fuel poverty sustainable implementati • Solar PV on plan • Solar PV • Promote (community) (private) “Green • Social • Energy culture” Enterprise Efficiency • Energy Efficiency
    12. 12. Phases of research Phase 2b: Phase 2a: ExtendedPhase 1: Context Narrative Biographies & (Interviews Interviews Multimodal July 2011- Method December 2011-December 2011) May 2012 May 2012- February 2013
    13. 13. Biographical narrative interviews Daily Routine Time (past, prese Community nts & futures) Transitions
    14. 14. Example data analysis• Not EB‟s data; energy localities (UR group)• Impetus – set up EB‟s working relationships• Key issue: intergenerational equity- Ethical debate around whether individuals have responsibility for future generations- Do current generations have a moral duty to protect natural resources (including energy)?• Study family members‟ data• Living connections to the future• Can people make temporal extensions across time and space?
    15. 15. Study background• In-depth qualitative energy locality study conducted in the summer of 2009• 53 participants were interviewed on two occasions• Participants recruited from 2 case site localities: surrounding Aberthaw B coal-fired power station in the Vale of Glamorgan and Hinkley Point nuclear power station in South West England
    16. 16. Presentation of analysis/findings• Structured around life course positioning of family members• Maf (Cardiff „Timescapes‟) method of analysis (Henwood & Shirani, in press; Henwood and Coltart, 2012)• Mine empirical pattern in data plus contextual interpretation
    17. 17. Babies „We stick the heating on whenever we think we need it because we have a baby, so I havent thought about it since having a baby at all maybe whereas before we had the baby I wouldnt necessarily use heating or electric if I didnt need it. I would put a couple more jumpers on and I wouldnt boil the kettle full and stuff. I just have to admit since having a baby I dont even think about it. I just use it constantly boiling the kettle, constantly putting the washing machine on, constantly using the tumble dryer and I know its bad and I have said to my husband I must hang more stuff out on the line but when it is pouring with rain and you havent got enough hours in the day the easy option is to put the tumble dryer on so yes I have got to be honest, I am a lot worse than I have ever, ever been… I should be thinking about it because obviously it is his future that it is going to affect, then Im not Supermum. I cant do it all.‟ (Cara)
    18. 18. Children„The children do projects at school and they come home and talk about it and you look at their books and they have got things in there and you think so that kind of opens your eyes to it a little bit. Just coming back with some little books from the library about energy and things like that and it gets you thinking about it, so I think having children does make you a little bit more conscious of energy and how you use it. Also having children it makes you more conscious because you use a hell of a lot more of it. You do a lot more washing and things like that, drying and whatever and car journeys and things like that and all that… you do notice that your consumption and obviously the cost increases when you have children but so again if you can do something to try and offset that in your mind then that is not a bad thing.‟ (Douglas).
    19. 19. Teenagers„Three girls, all they do is wash their hair and dry their hair so the amount of energy being used to keep them looking beautiful (laughs) the hairdryers getting burnt out regularly so they‟re getting replaced, so again they‟re in a generation where they couldn‟t not wash their hair every day… dirty is bad these days isn‟t it, everything‟s got to be washed to the nth degree … it‟s just accepted that they shower and wash their hair every day … and my generation sort of embraced this type of thing really well… there‟s nothing nicer than having a shower and there‟s nothing nicer than being clean, it‟s something that‟s acceptable and that everybody does really. I just can‟t imagine life without doing it. We used to go camping, even when you go camping you‟ve got shower and everything, so no it‟s we‟ve got to keep generating huge amounts of electricity because that‟s what people expect and my daughters are very green but they‟ve still got to shower and recycling is great. And global warming and all that jazz on one hand but on the other hand you‟ve still got to have a shower every day and dry your hair and straighten it, so it‟s all very well being green, but you‟ve got to be clean as well as being green.‟ (Debbie)
    20. 20. Grandchildren„As a nation you‟re looking towards making it better for your grandchildren, your great grandchildren and following on. Looking at it from a me point of view now at this moment it‟s bills, you‟ve got how much are you paying for all this stuff that you‟re bringing in and all right you‟re bringing it from so and so place rather than this place now because it might be 10p cheaper but how do we see that benefit? We don‟t get to see the benefits so in that respect I‟d say looking forward yes we‟d love to save the Earth and that but money-wise people have just got to think about what they‟re doing at the time rather than thinking what might happen in 5 years time.‟ (Sue)
    21. 21. No Children„I think it‟s an outrage … because what they‟re doing is saying, “Well, we‟re sorting that out tomorrow but we must do this.” Now the fact that what we‟re doing is creating a problem for tomorrow, it isn‟t going to worry the chap who‟s in charge because he gets his big fat pension in a couple of years‟ time and he can move to Cornwall so I don‟t think the people who are making the decisions have the commitment to the future. They don‟t care and I think that‟s basically it. The people who should be caring, don‟t care and they‟re short-sighted in the way they think.‟ (Amanda)
    22. 22. Study outcomes• Ages of children are significant in perceptions of how energy is used and wider issues of environmental concern• Participants did make longer-term connections but these often „gave way‟ to current demands• How can we keep the future in focus among these competing temporal pressures?
    23. 23. Conclusion• About continuity & change in lifecourse perceptions, not constructivist narrative• But meaningful data & not just sterile old (researcher‟s) story• Attentive to temporal meanings while explicating the point of deepening understanding of storied lives• Future directions of EB‟s analytical work: routines, moral sentiments and affects, dynamics of change relating to energy demand reduction and sustainable transitions• Family relationships & sustainability research?
    24. 24. Other EB’s team members• Professor Nick Pidgeon• Dr Fiona Shirani• Dr Karen Parkhill• Dr Catherine Butler