Social Practices, Transitions & the Use of Time: Options for understanding and assessing socio-technical change

Social Practices, Transitions & the Use of Time: Options for understanding and assessing socio-technical change

Anderson, Ben. (2018). ‘Social Practices, Transitions & the Use of Time: Options for Understanding and Assessing Socio-Technical Change’. presented at the Towards Sustainability Transitions in the Anthropocene: beyond behaviour change?, The Royal Society of New Zealand, Wellington, August 6.

Recent work completed at the UK DEMAND Centre’s programme has shown how habitual, normative and highly temporally contingent social practices drive residential energy demand [1], [2]. This presentation will discuss the use of historical time-use data for the UK to show how such practices are synchronised and how they have changed over time as the social organisation of everyday work/home life and its embedded infrastructures have changed [3]–[6]. I will focus on the way such data enables the evolution of ‘energy demanding practices’ to be traced through large empirical sample studies giving examples of the use of the results in highlighting potential commercial offerings, ‘non energy’ energy policies and implications for transitions towards a zero-carbon energy system. I will then discuss the extension of the approach to a large scale experimental RCT of demand response interventions intended to shift the timing of energy demanding practices and so reduce peak energy demand in the UK [7]. I will show how time-use data adds novel understandings of how people respond to such interventions and helps to provide explanations for apparent reductions. These explanations have, in turn, encouraged our lines company partners to consider how to influence normative locked-in practices performed by ‘non-rational’ actors when ‘rational economic’ tariff incentives fail. I will conclude by outlining an ongoing programme of work which is using NZ Time-Use survey data (1998/9 – 2009/10) to replicate at least some of the UK historical work albeit over a shorter time frame.


Ben Anderson

August 06, 2018