Energy Consumption,Biography and Self Design Prof. Karen HenwoodDr Catherine Butler Dr Karen Parkhill Dr Fiona Shirani Prof. Nick Pidgeon
Energy Biographies ResearchObjectives1. Develop understanding of energy use by investigating and comparing peoples different ‘energy biographies’ across a range of social settings 2. Examine how existing demand reduction interventions interact with peoples personal biographies and histories. 3. Develop improved understanding of how different community types can support reductions in energy consumption …We are also exploring the usefulness of innovative (narrative, longitudinal and visual) research methods for helping people reflect on the ways they use energy
Narrative Interview Themes1. Community and Context • Talk through how they came to live in their current home/area, how they characterise their community(s) • Connections – e.g. who they live with/is in their family • Discussion points specific to the particular case area2. Daily routine • Talk through in detail to get an understanding of energy use and practices • Discuss how this varies for atypical times/events e.g. Christmas, weekends3. Life transitions • What have been the key events/turning points that have resulted in a lifestyle change? • How might lifestyles and transitions differ for future generations?
Identity and Energy Consumption‘Consumption comprises a set of practices which permit people to express self-identity, mark attachment to social groups, accumulate resources, exhibit social distinction, ensureparticipation in social activities, and more besides. However, theseprocesses bear primarily on the way that individuals select among the vast array of alternative items made available in the form of commodities and their symbolic communicative potential….‘…Only at best obliquely and indirectly does the purchaseor use of water, coal, gas or electricity confer self-identity, mark attachment to social groups or exhibit social distinction.’ (Shove and Warde, 2001)
Identity production in Theory and Method Time, texture and Shaping of biography in identity psychosocial spaces construction / Identities in (Masco) the making (Henwood) Risk & identity Fateful futures (Henwood moments/ and Pidgeon) turning points (Thompson Culture, consumption & and Holland) identity - the extended critiques (Wetherell) Identity Intergenerational processes in Individualisation identities, social change & self-growth - cultural heritage and the art of living & social consumption (Wetherell) reproduction (Warde)
Life-histories, social histories: An integrativeidentity studies framework within socialpsychology (Wetherell, 1996)Processes under investigation• The making of individual identity (life history) & the broad formation of social identities (social history)• “to consider precisely how all that made society connects with all that made me” (p300)Key questions• How are people positioned as they develop?• How do we come to be where we currently inhabit?Accounts given/examined• = of the particulars of a life - to explain people’s life choices to go one way or the other
Wetherell’s three different arenas of study& analytic resources• The making of a life : the weight of social history• Personality & social practices• Family life and subject positions
Reading Laura’s life change narrative :engaging with Energy Biographies data• A narrative of life change in response to temporal pressure?• Competing cultural logics (manifest in narrative discourses & as discursive practices )• Working through identity/subjectivity
‘Living the good life’ a narrative oftemporal pressure & over-consumption inlifecourse perpective? “Since I was a child it was an instinctive thing to me. I remember watching ‘The Good Life’ and thinking yeah that’s it, that’s how Iwant to live...other people want to live like that like me …to grow your own stuff and to produce your own energy and all this DIY self-sufficient business I was just instinctively into that regardless of whether it was beneficial for the planet, it just seemed to me something I was interested in….But then I found myself living in the city with these three young children [laughs] and I kept thinking I don’t want to be in this situation forever. The years were rattling along …it was likeconstant things to do and chasing your tail just living really ..I was thinking no we’ve got to get out before it’s too late...”
Parenting identity shift: intensiveparenting culture? “There’s not so much devoting time to the children which is something that I feel a bitworried and guilty about because the kind of circle of friends that we had (before moving) it was a real kids first … I really identified our family as a Kids First family. So you’dplan the weekends around the children … and now we’re here we’ve got a lot to do and I just feel the children must notice the differentfeel about it that they’re left to their own devices a bit more”
Thriftiness and Identity… “They were definitely like post-war generation people and they were very much waste not wantnot…when I grew up I’d taken this on board ..I’d imbibed it and was a little out of stepespecially with the 90’s ‘oh just throw it all away and buy a new one..I really like thatabout them…I think it’s a nice way to live and I’m glad they’ve given me those habits actually….”
Sliding into change“I never thought we would actually do it, actually movehere. There was a thing called ‘Doing Lammas’, like arewe going to do it? Are we going to do Lammas ... it was a bit like being on a really scary ride you know, at thebeginning of the process you thought ‘this seems really interesting I think I’ll go and look into this’ … we’d be like writing the cheque and we’d be putting into the envelope and we’re like up the ladder, the ride’s at the top and we’re getting closer and closer and then you know that moment when the person before you goes down and you’re like ‘oh my God, reality?” [laugh]
The importance of enjoying thechange “I think that things are going to have to change actually and what I would like is for people to enjoy making the change rather than to be forced into it, so you know I really love living here where I’m forced to grow my own things and I’m forced to live off grid and so I would just like it if we can work out ways of doingthings that’s really comfortable and attractive and then people would enjoy it and see it as something to aspire to rather than sort of adrudge to have to, you know have to give up. Because it always seems to be giving up things doesn’t it the Green message and that’s not very positive. But for me it’s always been about the Good Life so that’s probably what I would like to see”
‘Celebrating’ convenient consumption,reclaiming normality ? “As they get older they start to ask things of you that you might…it doesn’t sit well with your philosophies and I don’t want to actually force them to do things that I want them to do…If like for Ella’s birthday, for her dinner… she actually said ‘can we have a Pot Noodle each?’ I was like ‘ok!’ Now that’s not something that I would normally buy for them because it is highly packaged, it’s very unhealthy, it’s not very local and organic…but she’s going to get her pot noodle.”
Living in the future and the past“I think you have to take a lot of things that worked successfully in the past and there are lots of little modernbenefits aren’t there like solar panels… I’d be cautious about trumpeting it as all like futuristic I think maybe a bitof both is the most honest way of doing it”
Following the trend, but in thevanguard of change “There’s always this egotistical side of me that came out when I was telling you about being an illustrator you know having my books there and my magazines and I like my life to be validated and people to think ‘she’s doing something really important’ and so there’s that side to it which I’m a little bit ashamed of but I can’t deny that I enjoy”
Frame switchInt. I mean you were talking about the 90’s blip but what do you think made you sort of not go where everyone else has in a way? Laura. I’m thinking now that I’ve just gone with the flow haven’t I? Because people are kind of, there is generally growing awareness of not throwing things away and looking after things isn’t there now? So I’m just a reflection of what a lot of people are doing but because I didn’t enjoydoing it actually just felt, it just didn’t feel nice you know it felt wrong. I think a trip to a council recycling centre or tips as they were known is just enough tomake anybody kind of go “oh my God we can’t carry on doing this forever” thesethings that people throw away you just chuck them out of the boot and into thetip. I think the reason why I carried on was like I said before it was just what Inaturally was that’s probably just caught up with the fashion of it all. I just felt a sense of satisfaction actually looking after things and not throwing things away too much and making things rather than buying things.
Concluding remarks• Recuperating Self-design (not a shallow concept)• Life stories not merely personal – assemblage of links (identity & consumption)• Driving, lights, televisions, flying, food – all now linked in public discourse to environmental unsustainablility Making self design potentially more relevant now to discussions of energy consumption….• How far can identity get us – problems of identity – if don’t want to be associated with green identity (notions of hippy, tree huggers etc.) – can be problematic• Problem located with the individual so need to consider struggles over subjectivity - how are people negotiating this in relation to their identities
Thank youProfessor Karen HenwoodCardiff University, School of SocialSciences & Understanding RiskGroupwww.energybiographies.org
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.