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Energy cultures: A framework for understanding energy behaviours

By Janet Stephenson, Barry Barton, Gerry Carrington, Daniel Gnoth, Rob Lawson and Paul Thorsnes

Abstract

Achieving a 'step-change' in energy efficiency behaviours will require enhanced knowledge of behavioural drivers, and translation of this knowledge into successful intervention programmes. The 'Energy Cultures' conceptual framework aims to assist in understanding the factors that influence energy consumption behaviour, and to help identify opportunities for behaviour change. Building on a history of attempts to offer multi-disciplinary integrating models of energy behaviour, we take a culture-based approach to behaviour, while drawing also from lifestyles and systems thinking. The framework provides a structure for addressing the problem of multiple interpretations of 'behaviour' by suggesting that it is influenced by the interactions between cognitive norms, energy practices and material culture. The Energy Cultures framework is discussed in the context of a New Zealand case study, which demonstrates its development and application. It has already provided a basis for cross-disciplinary collaboration, and for multi-disciplinary research design, and has provided insights into behavioural change in a case study community. As the conceptual basis of a 3-year research project, the framework has further potential to identify clusters of 'energy cultures' - similar patterns of norms, practices and/or material culture - to enable the crafting of targeted actions to achieve behaviour change.Integrated framework Energy behaviour Interdisciplinary

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