Gert Spaargaren - EnergyDays - 3 December 2015
Engaging with Transitions in Organized Behaviours: the Example of Smart Grids
The history of the energy transition in the Netherlands shows the difficulties of translating and operationalizing the goals of the energy-transition at the level of organized behaviours of householders. Organized energy behaviours can be analysed with the use of theories of social practices in order to better understand i). the non-individual and non-discursive character of everyday life routines ii) the interdependency of behaviours and technologies and iii) the transition pathways in configuration of practices. In order to engage householders with the energy transition in a structural manner, it is important to go beyond policy approaches that build upon individualist framings of social change as implied in many of the contemporary ‘behavioural change models’. Using examples from social scientific research on smart grids, it will be argued that for engaging end-users with transitions in smart grid, the use of economic and technical arguments alone will not suffice. The embedding of environmental goals, criteria, interests and emotions in smart grid configurations is one of the key challenges to be confronted.
Gert Spaargaren is professor of "Environmental Policy for Sustainable Lifestyles and Consumption" in the Environmental Policy Group at Wageningen University. His main research interests are in environmental sociology, sustainable consumption and behavior, and globalization of environmental reform.