Energy vulnerability among social housing tenants

3S researchers Tom Hargreaves and Noel Longhurst led a research programme in this 2-year (2016-2018) UK Energy Research Centre funded research project, based in UEA’s Centre for Competition Policy, which explored Equity and Justice in Energy Markets. As a whole, the research project was multi-disciplinary, drawing together research teams from a range of disciplines including:…

Sustainable Waste Systems and Practices

The challenge of managing and reducing domestic waste is a growing sustainability problem for governments and Local Authorities. This project investigates the inter-relationships between domestic waste systems, everyday social practices, and householders’ waste reduction and recycling activities. It will make a major contribution to reconceptualising domestic waste activities and thus help to design and implement…

Crisis as Opportunity? An ethnographic case-study of the post-capitalist possibilities of Crisis Community Currency Movements (PhD project)

A growing body of scholarship suggests that capitalism is not inevitable and that moments of crisis provide an opportunity for critique and social transformation towards sustainability. Yet literature on social movements employing direct-action tactics to unmake capitalism and challenge austerity in the wake of the ongoing economic crisis is still lacking. It has neither adequately…

3S Research stands the test of time

Research on local organic food systems by 3S’s Dr Gill Seyfang (Reader in Sustainable Consumption) is a ‘Classic Paper’ in the field of Sustainable Development. Dr Seyfang’s work is the 5th most-highly cited paper on Sustainable Development that was published in 2006. This is according to Google Scholar, whose ‘Classic Papers’ highlight the ten most-cited…

3S Working Paper 2016-29 Seyfang & Gilbert-Squires – Sustainable Banking Transitions

This paper presents and tests a new conceptual framework for understanding sustainable transitions in sociotechnical systems. We apply this in the first ever study of sustainable transitions in the UK retail banking system which has suffered recently from banking crises, and links to environmentally-sensitive industries such as fossil fuels. Sustainability-focused values-based banks are a potential…

New research briefing on Unleashing Grassroots Innovations

A newly-published research briefing discusses how we can unleash the transformative power of grassroots innovations, looking in particular at community currencies. Unleashing Grassroots Innovations: A Quest For Community Currency Growth How can grassroots innovations grow, achieve their potential, and increase their influence? Gill Seyfang presents findings of a 3-year quest to learn about diffusing community currencies.…

Unleashing Grassroots Innovations for Sustainability

The quest for sustainability’s holy grail will be the subject of a keynote presentation by Gill Seyfang (3S, UEA) at the European Society for Ecological Economics 2015 conference. Her challenge is to find the key to unleashing the transformative potential of grassroots innovations, such as sustainable money, food, energy, housing, transport and food systems, whose…

3S WP 2013-23 Wilson et al – Using Smart Homes

Published research on smart homes and their users is growing exponentially, yet a clear understanding of who these users are and how they might use smart home technologies is missing from a field being overwhelmingly pushed by technology developers. Drawing on a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed literature on smart homes and their users, this…

3S WP 2013-22 Jensen – Social practices in energy-related transitions?

Reducing energy consumption from lighting is, in policy making, largely treated as a matter ofoptimizing the individual lighting product. However, this paper argues that since lighting is a highly cultural, historical and socio-material phenomenon, energy efficient (or intensive) lighting patterns evolve from something more and something else than what the individual lighting product provides. This is an…

3S WP 2013-21 Seyfang et al – A Grassroots Sustainable Energy Niche? Reflections on community energy case studies

System-changing innovations for sustainability transitions are proposed to emerge in radical innovative niches. ‘Strategic Niche Management’ theory predicts that niche-level actors and networks will aggregate learning from local projects, distilling and disseminating best practice. This should lower the bar for new projects to form and establish, thereby encouraging the innovation to diffuse through replication. Within…

3S WP 2013-20 Foulds et al – Investigating the performance of everyday domestic practices using building monitoring

Building monitoring can enhance our understanding of everyday life, yet has sparsely been used in social practices research. Monitoring usually provides context (e.g. differences in performing practices) for more prominent qualitative inquiry, and is rarely centrally integrated methodologically. This paper aims to investigate the potential usefulness of utilising, and integrating more centrally, building monitoring to…

3S WP 2013-19 Hauxwell-Baldwin – The Politics and Practice of ‘Community’ in UK Government Funded Climate Change Initiatives

Academics and policy-makers have claimed that community has a potentially useful role to play in encouraging pro-environmental behaviour change. Yet despite a growing literature on the role of community in doing so, a critical examination of the policy context in which it is being employed towards that goal is currently lacking. This paper addresses that…

3S WP 2012-16 Macrorie – The dynamics and governance of thermal comfort practices in low carbon housing

Ambitious government targets set an agenda to reduce domestic energy demand, however the leverage of policies in this domain is poorly understood. Considering a social housing development recently constructed in the east of England, designed to be operationally carbon neutral, this research focuses upon the role of low-carbon technologies in delivering a reduction in residential…

3S WP 2012-14 Hargreaves – Opening the black box of the household: Understanding how householders interact with feedback from smart energy monitors

Current models of the role of energy feedback in helping to reduce energy use, assume it fills an information deficit in individual energy consumers’ knowledge and thus encourages them, rationally, to reduce their consumption levels either to save money or the environment. Based on 15 semi? structured interviews with participants trialling a range of smart…

3S WP 2012-12 Hargreaves et al Exploring the role of intermediaries in UK community energy: grassroots innovations and niche development

Multiple sustainability challenges are increasingly seen as demanding a fundamental transition in the energy system. In this context, community energy projects attract interest as sources for radical innovations. Studies of such bottom-up, civil society-led ‘grassroots innovations’, however, frequently highlight the profound challenges they face in growing, diffusing or even simply surviving. Strategic niche management SNM)…

3S WP 2012-11 Seyfang et al – Community energy in the UK

Community energy has been proposed as a new policy tool to help achieve the transition to a low- carbon energy system, but the evidence base for this strategy is partial and fragmented. We therefore present new empirical evidence from the first independent UK-wide survey of community energy projects. Our survey investigates the objectives, origins and…

3S WP 2012-10 Seyfang Longhurst – Grassroots innovation for sustainability: A niche analysis of community currencies

Over the last decade, the nascent field of Sustainability Transitions has sought to explain the conditions under which technological innovations can diffuse and disrupt existing socio-technical systems through the successful scaling up of experimental ‘niches’. Building on this pioneering work, recent research on ‘grassroots innovations’ argues that civil society is a promising but under- researched…

3S WP 2012-09 Foulds et al – A domestic practices perspective on Passivhaus living

This paper uses social practice theory to explore the implications of new low carbon dwellings upon energy consuming practices. The handover period for a small to medium sized UK Passivhaus development was investigated, predominantly using interviews as well as informal observation and participation at key events (e.g. move-in day technology tours, information sessions, post-move-in landlord…

3S WP 2012-07 North Longhurst – Beyond the rural idyll: political strategies of urban ‘Transition’ initiatives

This paper engages with the progressive politics of climate change and resource constraint developed in the UK and elsewhere by the Transition initiatives ‘movement’ which looks to develop a positive local politics of the transition to a low carbon economy and society. The paper argues firstly that Transitions strengths are in raising issues and developing…

3S WP 2012-05 Groomes and Seyfang – Secondhand Spaces and Sustainable Consumption: Examining Freecycle’s Environmental Impacts and User Motivations

Sustainable consumption demands that greater attention is paid to the causes and consequences of a materialistic consumer society, in particular the issue of ever-increasing post-consumer waste. Current research suggests that secondhand disposition and acquisition are motivated by generosity, economic necessity and personal fulfilment. Despite the recent growth of online secondhand spaces, including Freecycle (an online…

3S WP 2012-03 Hargreaves et al – Understanding Sustainability Innovations: Points of Intersection between the Multi-Level Perspective and Social Practice Theory

This paper seeks to demonstrate the utility of using two different approaches to sustainability system innovation in parallel, arguing that doing so provides valuable insights that would be lost if only one theoretical lens is used. The Multi-Level Perspective and Social Practice Theory have emerged as competing approaches for understanding the complexity of socio-technical change.…

3S WP 2012-02 Seyfang and Longhurst – Money, Money, Money? A Scoping Study of Grassroots Complementary Currencies for Sustainability

As a response to the unsustainability of current global financial systems, parallel sustainable monetary systems are being developed by civil society groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), informed by ecological economics perspectives on development, value, economic scale and growth. These parallel systems of exchange (or grassroots complementary currencies) are designed to promote sustainable development, by localising…

3S WP 2012-01 Hargreaves – Governing Energy Use at Home: Smart Meters, Governmentality and Resistance

This paper examines attempts to reduce household energy consumption through the introduction of real time display monitors (RTDs) that enable householders to ‘see’ their energy use (and its associated carbon emissions) and thus take steps to reduce it. Drawing on repeat semi-structured interviews, conducted 12-months apart, with 10 householders participating in a ‘Visible Energy Trial’…