Just transitions and sociotechnical innovation in the social housing sector: an assemblage analysis of residents’ perspectives

Matthew Cotton, Paul Van Schaik, Natasha Vall, Susan Lorrimer, Andrea Mountain, Rosemary Stubbs, Charlotte Leighton, Edgar Segovia, Elena Imani

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Abstract

Creating low-carbon pathways for domestic electricity and heating is a core aspect of the UK Government's housing strategy. Understanding issues of energy justice and the socio-technical dynamics of low-carbon innovation are vital for successfully implementing new technologies and retrofit measures across diverse communities and different housing types. The social housing sector is particularly important in the study of just domestic low-carbon transitions due to the challenges faced by residents concerning energy affordability and insecurity during the ongoing cost of living crisis in the UK. This qualitative study, conducted in the Northeast of England, adopts an assemblage thinking approach to examine the experiences of social housing residents. Through thematic analysis of interviewee responses, we identify themes related to cost and affordability; decision-making dynamics and energy justice; disruption, retrofit and ‘fabric first’; energy autonomy and the practicalities of technology choice; and environmental values and collective climate action. We find that justice in the low-carbon home requires social housing organisations to strengthen mechanisms for resident engagement and interconnectedness before retrofit roll-out, to identify independent sources and arbiters of information on upfront and long-term energy costs, to ensure effective mechanisms for the social control of energy use, and to provide a platform to encourage nascent energy citizenship through which residents link pro-environmental behaviours in the home to broader networks of social action on climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102513
JournalTechnology in Society
Volume77
Issue numberJune
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2024

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