The Nexus Network ‘Domestic Nexus’ project examined the dynamics of consumption at the domestic scale. The household is a critical junction where the provisioning of resources such as water, food, energy meets with everyday practices such as laundry, eating and comfort.
The project was run by Matt Watson, Peter Jackson and Liz Sharp from University of Sheffield with Dale Southerton, David Evans, Alan Ward and Ali Browne from the University of Manchester.
Read the network final report here
While consumption and provisioning have often been held analytically separate in previous research, practice theory has been shown to provide a vehicle for exploring the points of connection, mediation and translation between ‘doing’ and ‘providing’ (Reckwitz 2002, Warde 2005).
By focusing on the coordination and reproduction of consumer practice through an exploration of the routines and rhythms of everyday life it provides a means to realise innovative work on Nexus issues and a framework for generating new insights into how resource-intensive practices might be reshaped.
The workshop series critically engaged the burgeoning research already carried out in relation to domestic energy, food and water consumption in relation to the nexus concept, and implications for policy.
The Domestic Nexus team ran 3 workshops to look at different aspects of the domestic nexus.
UNDERSTANDING DOMESTIC PRACTICES AND THEIR DYNAMICS ACROSS THE NEXUS
15 Oct 2015 University of Sheffield.
This workshop explored the state of contemporary understanding of domestic practices in relation to resource consumption across each specific domain (energy, food, water), with a focus upon transition moments, and whether and how initiatives have successfully targeted these moments as an effective means of intervention. It also explored what is known about how practices change through time including how they are linked to a person’s stage in the life course and/or to the context and infrastructure in which their cohort habituated particular practices.
- Does a nexus understanding bring to light different potential sites of intervention in relation to moments of transition?
- How are moments of transition balanced by the reproduction of practices and continuities in everyday life?
- What do we know about which practices are associated with age and which with cohort or generation, and what methods of research have been most useful in providing this information?
- What patterns can we discern about why some practices vary more closely with age and others with cohort?
- What are the implications of our conclusions in terms of how a particular cohort or age group might be targeted in an intervention?
- What initiatives or research questions would throw more light on the role of age and cohort effects in relation to domestic practices?
RESHAPING THE DOMESTIC NEXUS: ANALYTICAL INSIGHTS AND METHODOLOGIES
23 Nov 2015, Friends Meeting House, Manchester.
This workshop brought together understanding from across the distinct domains comprising the Nexus, and the field of sustainable consumption more generally. It focussed on the dynamics and factors – including deliberate interventions – which have led to the re-shaping of domestic practices to less resource intensive configurations. Workshop discussion explored:
- The relationship between theoretical understanding, analytical approaches, methodologies and policy formulation.
- Methodological approaches which push practice theory approaches beyond the orthodoxy of ethnographic/qualitative case studies, eg;
- Big data and other quantitative methods, secondary data sets, time use survey.
- Urban experimentation/living labs.
- Identification of different changes which have shifted practices towards lower resource intensity, including specific interventions but also looking to other unintended sources of change to domestic routines such as in economic, technological or policy changes.
- Alternatives to conventional ‘behaviour change’ initiatives which focus on systemic rather than individual-level change.
- The relationships between initiatives’ institutional contexts and their public reception (for example, the differences between promotion by a utility provider and a third sector organisation).
SCOPING OPPORTUNITIES FOR INCREASED SUSTAINABILITY: POLICY AND PRACTICE: 9 DEC 2015, UCL, LONDON.
This workshop brought together the conclusions from the previous discussions to focus on opportunities to enable more sustainable domestic nexuses to be enabled. The workshop was professionally facilitated and run in a format enabling creative discussion and exchange, to think through the challenges and potential for different possible ideas for initiatives generated in previous workshops. This workshop was held in London to facilitate participation from government, business and third sector partners.
Question for discussion included:
- What sets of target practices / householders / enablers might constitute appropriate foci for different initiatives concerned to impact on the domestic nexus?
- What would/should constitute evidence of ‘success’ for practice informed initiatives focused on the domestic nexus?
- Which organisations and forms of governance are best placed to co-ordinate initiatives focused on the domestic nexus?
- What broader different arrangements of governing, policy and funding would be needed if government were to prioritise the transformation of domestic practices?