Sustainable Consumption Institute Seminar: Dr Ritsuko Ozaki
|Dates:||25 June 2014|
|Times:||16:00 - 17:30|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Social Sciences|
|Speaker:||Dr Ritsuko Ozaki|
The UK Government launched the Code for Sustainable Homes in 2006, requiring housing developers to incorporate technologies intended to reduce carbon and create energy renewal into the design of homes. This encourages a technologically deterministic approach to the reduction of energy consumption, and positions ‘end-users’’ behaviour as pivotal. Some scholars (e.g. Guy, 2006; Shove, 2004; Southerton et al., 2004; Spaargaren, 2011; Wilhite, 2004, 2008) advocate a shift from the analysis of technological efficiency to that of ‘socio-technical’ relations and practices. This strand of research suggests that energy consumption does not occur in a vacuum: users’ practices are not isolated from the activities of other actors (e.g. state agencies), and that energy consumption is influenced by embedded socio-technical practices. The emphasis here is not upon the provision of consumer ‘choice’, but upon an understanding of how practices and energy consumption co-develop.
In line with this effort, this paper investigates how the consumption of energy is affected by embedded socio-technical practices of residents who live in a social housing development with heat recovery ventilation and solar water heating systems installed. The paper examines how such policy-recommended technologies embody assumptions about normative use. This allows us to examine the tensions between actual and intended use. The study is comprised of longitudinal interviews with repeated residents and interviews with professionals from a social housing association who worked to develop and manage the scheme. Analysis first sheds light on professional actors’ approaches to shape intended use. Then, these will be contrasted with an analysis of how socio-technical practices are performed to manage daily life (e.g. cooking). The study shows how residents creatively incorporate and adapt to technologies in the home to accomplish everyday activities. In certain cases, sustainable technologies are made obsolete, thus challenging the notion that state actors could ‘edit’ consumer choices to enact environmental change.
Dr Ritsuko Ozaki
Organisation: Imperial College Business School
Biography: Ritsuko Ozaki is a Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College Business School. Her background is sociology and housing studies, and her research focuses on the adoption and consumption of new technologies and the implementation of new initiatives, with a particular focus on energy and environmental sustainability. Her current research explores: householders’ engagement with smart meters and dynamic use-of-time tariffs; engineers’ social construction of environmental problems and approaches to tackle them, and commercial users’ acceptance of new energy services; and community-driven initiatives for energy efficiency and low carbon emissions with ICT-based solutions
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