Current efforts to change patterns of energy demand tend to target people as discrete and isolated individuals. In so doing, they ignore the fact that energy use occurs in places such as homes, workplaces and communities in which complex webs of social relations already exist. Here, we argue that more attention should be paid to how people's social relations influence energy demand. We review recent qualitative research to show how social relations shape how much energy people use, when and where they use it, as well as how they respond to interventions. We propose a typology that identifies three types of social relation as especially significant: those with family and friends, with agencies and communities, and those associated with social identities. We show how a focus on social relations can generate new forms of policy and intervention in efforts to build more just and sustainable energy futures.
Energy use occurs in homes, workplaces and communities in which complex webs of social relations already exist. In this Perspective, the authors draw on recent qualitative research to propose a typology of social relations that shape how people engage with and use energy.
- COMMUNITY ENERGY
- FUEL POVERTY
- HOUSEHOLD DYNAMICS
- RENEWABLE ENERGY