Sociopsychological perspectives on the active roles of domestic actors in transition to a lower carbon electricity economy

Michael Nye, Lorraine Whitmarsh, Timothy Foxon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the active roles that domestic consumers might play in different transition pathways to a lower carbon electricity economy. It begins with a review of psychological and sociological perspectives on the drivers for everyday energy-use patterns, situating these in the context of the body of research on transitions in sociotechnical systems. On the basis of the review, a social-science-based framework is proposed for analysing the active ways in which domestic actors might facilitate or support the transition to a lower carbon economy. Applying the framework to an analysis of centralised and decentralised transitions pathways suggests that domestic actors can play an active role in transition through establishing new routine and conventional uses of energy in everyday life. Domesticating lower carbon technologies such as smart meters and microgeneration equipment supports the disruption of unsustainable energy-using routines and could help to make energy consumption and energy costs more visible and relevant to the everyday lives of domestic users. The findings call attention to the need to consider the wider effects of energy-system transition within and around consumer-oriented lifestyles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-714
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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