• Conflicting energy policy priorities in EU energy governance

      Fernandez, Rosa M. (Springer, 2018-06-06)
      AbstractIn the last decade, energy policies across EU member states have shifted, with fears emerging over the feasibility of the decarbonisation targets set up at European level. In many cases, the changes have been triggered by weakened economic conditions linked to the last international economic crisis (2008), but in some others, they respond to national political preferences that have been given priority over long-term goals related to sustainability. The second half of 2016 was particularly full of events that on one hand, introduced uncertainty over markets, and on the other hand, may condition the progress (both weakening it and leaning it towards the wrong path) towards the Energy Union, the latest attempt to achieve energy market integration by the EU institutions. This paper will focus on three events to analyse their influence over EU’s energy governance patterns: The first is the Brexit vote and the implications over budget availability for emissions reduction projects. The second is the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA, with his declared disbelief in climate change. Finally yet importantly is the latest decision by OPEC to cut production in order to increase oil prices. With the exception of Brexit, these events are external to the EU, but all of them will have an impact over EU energy policy decisions. Bearing in mind that goals set up for 2030 are already ‘softer’ than expected compared to the 2020 ones, the question is whether those events could push policymakers more towards European targets concerned with security of supply, conflicting with emissions reduction goals.
    • Excessive but not wasteful? Youth cultures of everyday waste (avoidance)

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (SAGE, 2019-08-26)
      This article contributes to ongoing debates around the cultural production of waste by arguing for a clearer distinction between concepts of ‘waste’ and ‘excess’, and by suggesting the benefits of this distinction for tackling the perceived consumer-cultural waste ‘problem’. Drawing on recent qualitative research with UK adolescents I consider how a range of (youth/consumer) cultural drivers, social norms and moral imperatives shape young people’s everyday material consumption practices in ways that reflect (and produce) varied ways of (de/re-)valuing no-longer-wanted possessions. By exploring the cultural projects within which the young participants and their material possessions were engaged, and by identifying their aims in employing specific keeping and ridding practices, noteworthy differences between ‘waste’ and ‘excess’ materialise. I suggest that the drivers of the ‘excesses’ identified – characterised here in terms of ‘outgrowings’ and ‘hedging’ – highlight a set of distinctly cultural challenges to be met if the slippage of materials from ‘excess’ into ‘waste’ is to be averted. I contend that acknowledging these challenges, and these conceptual distinctions, may prove beneficial in attempts to address some of the societal challenges (e.g. material novelty as a driver of social status) related to the production of waste.
    • Fashion acolytes or environmental saviours? When will young people have had ‘enough’?

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-10-01)
      In the global north, high rates of material consumption show few signs of abating, despite oft-repeated warnings of dire social and environmental consequences. Environmental educators have identified young people as a potentially effective group of change agents, capable of driving a transformative shift in how we consume. Yet this picture of the young environmental ‘saviour’ is at odds with many Western young people’s thirst for the ‘latest’ fashions and trends. This chapter explores how young people themselves make sense of this apparent contradiction. Exploring under-researched questions around young people’s conceptualisations of, and affective and embodied responses to, the notion of ‘enough’, it highlights the cultural and contextual factors which could prove decisive in positioning the notion of ‘enough’ centrally in a sustainability-compatible youth material culture.
    • Inadvertent environmentalism and the action–value opportunity: reflections from studies at both ends of the generational spectrum

      Hitchings, Russell; Collins, Rebecca; Day, Rosie; University College London; University of Chester; University of Birmingham (Routledge, 2013-11-22)
      A recent turn towards a more contextually sensitive apprehension of the challenge of making everyday life less resource hungry has been partly underwritten by widespread evidence that the environmental values people commonly profess to hold do not often translate into correspondingly low impact actions. Yet sometimes the contexts of everyday life can also conspire to make people limit their consumption without ever explicitly connecting this to the environmental agenda. This paper considers this phenomenon with reference to UK studies from both ends of the generational spectrum. The first questioned how older people keep warm at home during winter and the second examined how young people get rid of no longer wanted possessions. Both found that, though the respondents involved were acting in certain ways that may be deemed comparatively low impact, they were hitherto relatively indifferent to the idea of characterising these actions as such. We outline three ways in which sustainability advocates might respond to the existence of such “inadvertent environmentalists” and consider how they might inspire studies that generate fresh intervention ideas instead of lingering on the dispiriting recognition that people do not often feel able to act for the environment.
    • Keeping it in the family: Refocusing household sustainability

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2015-01-24)
      Recent research on how best to support the development of pro-environmental behaviours has pointed towards the household as the scale at which interventions might be most effectively targeted. While pro-environmental behaviour research has tended to focus on the actions of adults, almost one-third of UK households also include children and teenagers. Some research has suggested that young people are particularly adept at exerting influence on the ways in which the household as a whole consumes. Yet this influence is not only one-way; parents continue to have direct input into the ways in which their children relate to and interact with the objects of consumption (such as personal possessions) through routine processes including acquisition, use, keeping and ridding. In this paper I draw on qualitative research with British teenagers to highlight how young people and their parents interact when managing household material consumption. I use this discussion to suggest that promoters of sustainability might increase the efficacy of their efforts by engaging households as complex family units, where individual household members’ distinct priorities are linked by shared familial values, and where family-based group identity is used to encourage shared commitment to lower-impact living.
    • New-Old Jeans or Old-New Jeans? Contradictory aesthetics and sustainability paradoxes in young people’s clothing consumption

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (TU Berlin, 2019-11-30)
      This paper reports on an ongoing research project exploring the role of aesthetics – particularly aesthetics related to the multiple meanings of ageing – in young people’s interventions in the material lives of their clothes. Provoked by the trend for ‘pre-aged’ jeans, this study interrogates how material manifestations of the passing of time shape young consumers’ relationships with their clothes. Specifically, this enquiry focuses on the multiple, intersecting and sometimes contradictory aesthetics of aged garments. It examines the extent to which – and circumstances in which – young consumers view the visible lived history of their garments as positive, and the role played by personal manual interventions (e.g. acts of repair, customization, upcycling or repurposing) in transforming an un(der)loved and un(der)used item into one with heightened forms of value. Drawing on practice-based workshop-interviews with around 20 18-22 year olds, this research seeks to contribute to emerging debates around sustainability, consumer agency and ownership in relation to the consumption of fashion.
    • Preface

      Cox, Peter; University of Chester (German Environment Agency / European Cyclists' Federation, 2018-11)
      Preface to volume
    • Social practices and the importance of context

      Cox, Peter; Bunte, Heike; University of Chester: German Environment Agency (German Environment Agency / European Cyclists' Federation, 2018-11)
      Social practice theory provides insight not only for analysis of existing social habits but also into their formation. Better understanding of the complexity of practices also allows insight into their relative degrees of obduracy: the potential for change or resistance to change. Characteristic of much work in recent analysis of cycling promotion is a tendency towards abstract generalization that ignores the specificities of practices as they occur in given locations. Cycling practices are not only located in space but also in time, and meanings, competencies and technologies are all inheritors of particular histories. This paper argues that much current promotional activity and research into changing behaviour is problematic inasmuch as it is ahistorical, lacking in analysis of the social and political forces that are responsible for the sedimentation of current practices. Following Oosterhuis’ (2016) argument, the paper argues that without embedding analysis of transport processes in a much broader context, that pays heed to forms of governance, citizenship, the relative competencies of different levels of polity and the ways in which these forces are historically constructed, interventions aimed at behavioural change have little chance of success. Developing the work of Aldred (2010) on cycling and citizenship and Shove (2015) on social practice and policy, the paper links these to the field of comparative environmental politics (Steinberg & Van Deever 2012) through a lens of historical analysis. Drawing on a survey of over 100 recent papers analysing problems and interventions designed to promote modal shift in general and toward cycling in particular, the paper considers the degree to which these are sensitive to the social political and historical forces against which they operate. It then uses a comparison between historic campaigns for change in the UK and Germany to argue that the impact of interventions is less to do with their design than with the political context into which they are introduced.
    • Some Observations on Human-Landscape interactions in Almería

      Alexander, Roy; University of Chester
      Extended abstract of Keynote presentation delivered at EcoDesert Symposium, Almería, February 2019.
    • A Sustainable Future in the Making? The Maker Movement, the Maker-Habitus and Sustainability

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Routledge, 2018-04-06)
      Recent years have seen the emergence of what has been termed a new ‘maker movement’. Alternately cast either as an essentially new mode of engagement with the practices and potentialities of making instigated by the development of new technologies, or a (re)turn to the fundamentals and rewards of traditional crafts, opportunities to practice making in an array of forms are increasingly widespread. Whilst there has been some (limited) acknowledgement of the role a (re)valorisation of making might play in a more environmentally sustainable material culture (e.g. Brook 2012), how such connections might be made and supported has remained unexplored. This chapter draws on both theoretical and empirical sources in order to articulate a conceptual ‘maker-habitus’ – an embodied orientation to the material world characterised by an interest in material (re)production. I argue that fundamental to the ‘maker-habitus’ is a particularly acute affordance sensitivity – that is, an ability to identify the potentialities of materials and material things. Recent empirical work is used to illustrate this notion at work and, in turn, to suggest that increasing societal support for the proliferation of such sensibilities might be key to eliciting a more environmentally sustainable everyday material culture.
    • Transitioning to Organic Rice Farming in Thailand: Drivers and Factors

      Miller, Servel; Seerasarn, Nareerut; Wanaset, Apinya; University of Chester; Sukhothai Thammathirat; Open University
      The Thai government has made it part of the long-term strategy to produce more organic rice, particularly for the Chinese market, to sustain Thai economic growth. However, whilst there has been an increase in organic rice farming, the rate has been relatively slow compared to conventional methods. This research focuses on determining the drivers and factors that influences conversion to organic rice farming in order to better inform local and national policies. It provides an insight into the processes in the decision-making process of famers and the practices they use. Questionnaire and interview data from farmers from the leading rice production region, Surin was analyzed using logistic regression to understand the driver for of organic rice farming and well as the barrier and challenges of adopting to this practice. The findings highlight the critical role of extension farm officers in promoting, educating and motivating farmers to take on organic farming. The ability to access (affordable) loans through local cooperative and land-ownership were also key motivational factors. Young people (under 25) are not engaging with farming generally and this is a major barrier to long-term growth in the organic rice industry in Thailand.