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Scientific article
English

Exploring emotions and norms around Swiss household energy usage: When methods inform understandings of the social

Published inEnergy Research and Social Science, vol. 45, p. 81-90
Publication date2018
Abstract

Social norms have an important role to play in relation to how practices play out, involving shared understandings and expectations around what should or ought to be. Few studies consider emotions from a social practice perspective in relation to energy studies, however. From a socio-anthropological perspective, we set out to uncover how studying emotions methodologically could provide insights into opportunities for reduced or improved energy usage in the home. Based on a three-year research project focused on household energy usage in Western Switzerland (2015–2017), we demonstrate how studying emotions can help to reveal tensions in discourse and practice, which present windows of opportunities for either de-stabilising or re-enforcing existing practices. What we found is that practices compete for people's time, but also for people's emotions: achieving a "feel good" disposition can imply engaging in strategies that involve forms of prioritization, justification or negotiation drawing from different registers, such as a quest for convenience and cleanliness, but also for personal health or safety. In the conclusion, we provide insights on how eliciting emotions through collective action and forms of social learning could lead to opportunities for transformative, socially-embedded change - towards both reduced and improved energy usage.

Funding
  • Swiss National Science Foundation - 153744
Citation (ISO format)
SAHAKIAN, Marlyne, BERTHO, Béatrice. Exploring emotions and norms around Swiss household energy usage: When methods inform understandings of the social. In: Energy Research and Social Science, 2018, vol. 45, p. 81–90. doi: 10.1016/j.erss.2018.06.017
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Article (Submitted version)
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ISSN of the journal2214-6296
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