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Smart Living: Implications for health and wellbeing

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Presentation at BSA Environment and Health Conference, Cardiff, 27th October 2017

Published in: Environment
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Smart Living: Implications for health and wellbeing

  1. 1. Smart Living: Implications for health and wellbeing Fiona Shirani On behalf of the FLEXIS social science team – Karen Henwood, Chris Groves, Erin Roberts and Nick Pidgeon
  2. 2. What is smart living? • Strengers (2013:1) “In its broadest sense, ‘smart’ represents an ultimate desired state across all aspects of contemporary life. It encapsulates ideals of efficiency, security and utilitarian control in a technologically mediated and enabled environment. Further, it is employed by its proponents as a means of imagining and realising social and technological progress, while simultaneously solving a range of social and environmental problems.” • Wellbeing of Future Generations Technology Control Efficiency
  3. 3. • 2011-2015 qualitative longitudinal • 74 initial interviews, 36 across 3 waves • Use of photographs and video Energy Biographies Ely and Caerau Peterston- Super-Ely Pembrokeshire London Now working on interdisciplinary FLEXIS project (http://www.flexis.wales/)
  4. 4. Technology and the environment “Oh ok electric, electric gadgets… I mean the hedge trimmers are interesting because I only bought those a couple of years ago and it was deliberately a ‘hang on a minute this hedge cutting lark is getting really hard work the older I get’, that motion really aching across here and I thought yeah lets get some electricity in to help with this one and it makes a huge difference” (Jeremy) “we do love our patio heater when it’s a sunny evening but it gets a bit cold and dark and you can sit out … we love being outside, we just love that you can you know go, we were sitting out there one evening … with friends, and it was like midnight and you could have a drink outside still and its so lovely here cos its so quiet and everything so but you wouldn’t have been able to do it without that so or you would have been freezing” (Lucy)
  5. 5. Aerogarden “I had an initial reaction I was thinking oh that’s a real shame you know what about you know what about just getting out and getting dirt in your fingernails and all that sort of romantic kind of stuff I suppose about being in a garden and then I thought that’s ridiculous you don’t even like gardening! So that was a confused stereotype that I bought into. So then I was thinking you know there is a tension I was thinking a part of me was thinking you know that’s really interesting, that’s really cool, clever use of technology you know it’s obviously like taking seriously considerations of efficiency and energy use and maximising sort of useable output in terms of food according to what you’re putting into it and you know really innovative and yet there is just there’s a bit of me that can’t help thinking you’re losing something about the actual garden and being outside and space and kind of fresh air and all those other things.” (Steve)
  6. 6. “I think cultivating food and dealing with plants and gardens is recognized as a key thing that helps connect people to the world they live in. It helps for mental health and the feeling of having a reason in the world … my concern, my reservation is that what is the quality of that connection if it’s cut off from the reality of reality? If it’s done in a laboratory style way, is there a desensitivity and a disconnect there that undermines the experience so like farmers say it, they are in a computerized tractor using GPS, they are no longer aware of the soil type or what they are planting, or the spacing or the season, they can’t feel the season on them very much because they are air conditioned and they all have CD players and stuff.” (Rachel) Nature and mental health
  7. 7. “I would rather have natural light and live with the natural rhythms of a day or a season rather than try to control and exclude it just seems to me to be a not an appealing way of being.” (Mary) “Like the fridge that re-orders it scans yeah it scans the items you put in and if you run out of butter it sort of scans and then puts it on your shopping electronically and it gets ordered and all this but I still think it sort of dumbs us down as a kind of society and replaces our you know ingenuity and our thinking, free thinking with controlled you know thinking and you know computerisation of everything” (Dennis) Technology in the home
  8. 8. “I’m just learning at the moment but the future is to have everything controllable without getting out of my settee, just because I love gadgets and I just oh I love it, that’s the best thing I’ve ever bought that is.” (Doug) Can smart aid wellbeing?
  9. 9. Challenges for a smart future • Increasing reliance on technology will create greater social divides Because what’s going to happen is there is going to be a massive rich-poor divide isn’t there? If it carries on the way it is going and there will be people who just will never be able to afford that kind of stuff and, god, what kind of world is that going to be? (Helen) • What is time being freed up for? • Assumption of continued reliance on electricity Technology Control Efficiency
  10. 10. References • Chappells, H. and Shove, E. (2005) Debating the future of comfort: environmental sustainability, energy consumption and the indoor environment. Building Research and Information. 33(1): 32-40. • Dodge, R., Daly, A.P., Huyton, J., & Sanders, L.D. (2012). ‘The challenge of defining wellbeing’. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2(3); pp. 222-235. doi: 10.5502/ijw.v2i3.4 • Ozaki, R. and Shaw, I. (2014) Entangled practices: governance, sustainable technologies, and energy consumption. Sociology. Vol. 48(3) 590–605 • Strengers, Y. (2013) Smart Energy Technologies in Everyday Life. Smart Utopia? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

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