ENERGISE to conceptualise and investigate practice cultures

Charged with leading the delivery of the conceptual framework document for the ENERGISE project, the Work Package 1 (WP1) team from Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (LMU) presented a finalised draft document at the recent ENERGISE Partner meeting held in Dublin (June 1st-2nd). At the Friday morning WP1 workshop, WP1 leader Prof. Dr. Henrike Rau outlined the three primary aims of the conceptual framework,  namely; (i)  to provide a detailed account of how everyday practices and their cultural shaping influence household energy consumption; (ii) to identify and describe different dynamics and trajectories of change, and finally (iii) to outline opportunities for practice-oriented and culturally sensitive forms of social inquiry to finding practical ways to replace energy-intensive everyday practices with less resource-intensive ones.

Discussing the framework, Prof. Dr. Henrike Rau said: “…rather than viewing energy use as a consequence of individual decision-making, the ENERGISE conceptual framework presents energy-use as one of the main outcomes of engagement in everyday practices and routines, performed habitually and sometimes unconsciously and heavily influenced by the prevailing structural, social and cultural conditions prevalent in society…...while energy use itself is ordinarily an easily observable phenomenon, we are attempting to capture the hidden social context, reasons and meaning behind the performances of these practices, with a view to discovering new opportunities to reshape existing energy-intensive practices into more sustainable ones…”.

Discussing the reshaping of such practices, the conceptual framework document focuses on households as the key unit of social organisation; linking individual members’ views and practices to wider societal conditions and often developing their own “practice cultures” as a response to both the differing and individual needs of households and their members. The document further proposes to use the concept of practice cultures as a bridge between practice-theoretical and culturalist perspectives.  This will draw explicit attention to the existence of culture-specific sets of practices that result in specific energy use patterns that merit further social-scientific investigation both within and between countries.

The delivery of the final conceptual framework document is due for completion by the end of July 2017.

By Prof. Dr. Henrike Rau, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (LMU)