Scientific article

From governing behaviour to transformative change: A typology of household energy initiatives in Switzerland

Published inEnergy Policy, vol. 129, p. 1261-1270
Publication date2019

Based on a study of fifty initiatives aimed at reducing energy usage among Swiss households, we uncover what representations of change and forms of engagement are put forward by these initiatives, and the related policy implications. Two ideal-types emerge from our analysis: first, the dominant worldview of change as based on governing behaviour towards ‘better' individual choices, made possible through rationalising, evaluating, and awareness-raising; second, an ideal-type which involves representations of change based on recognizing the social embeddedness of practices and socio-technical systems. Initiatives that fall into this category seek to transform how everyday life plays out, in relation to energy services and systems of provision, while challenging dominant norms around individuals as central to change. In comparing the Swiss case to over 1,000 initiatives across Europe, we discuss what makes Switzerland a forerunner in relation to this second ideal type. Further, we assess how different forms of engagement are at play, involving the participation of diverse groups of people in initiative design and implementation, while aiming towards more durable, effective and innovative solutions – which we see as a subset of the two ideal types, and one that merits further study.

  • Energy transition
  • Sufficiency
  • Households
  • Switzerland
  • Swiss National Science Foundation - 4O7L4O_L5374 (PNR71)
  • European Commission - European Network for Research, Good Practice and Innovation for Sustainable Energy [727642]
Citation (ISO format)
SAHAKIAN, Marlyne, DOBIGNY, Laure. From governing behaviour to transformative change: A typology of household energy initiatives in Switzerland. In: Energy Policy, 2019, vol. 129, p. 1261–1270. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2019.03.027
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0301-4215

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