Go back to article: Getting to grips with energy: fuel, materiality and daily life

Infrastructures and practices

The focus on energy-in-use enables us to zoom in on the quotidian interplay between domestic appliances, fuel and social practices. It also, though, allows us to zoom out and reconsider the relationship between private life and public infrastructures. The road between infrastructures and practices is not a one-way street. Heating, driving or, most recently, texting and social networking do not simply emerge in response to infrastructures. They also feed them. Broadband, to take a recent example, arrives in cafes and trains because digital communication has been spreading and creating a demand for it. How practices and infrastructures fit together depends on context and is a subject that deserves future study. It is a major question, not least because it asks revealing and controversial questions about the links between our current energy-intensive lifestyle and mostly polluting infrastructures. But doing so also holds out the hope of steering practices in a more sustainable direction that reduces the need for large-scale power stations and infrastructure investments by lowering our demand for them (Shove and Trentmann, 2018).

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/180901/005