Accepted paper:

Electricity as a cultural concept implicated in everyday practices: a comparison of French and Norwegian responses to policy appeals for sustainable energy


Tanja Winther (University of Oslo)
Sophie Bouly de Lesdain (EDF-associée EHESS/IIAC/LAU (associated))

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the relationship between people’s perceptions and uses of electricity in Norway and France and current, global discourses. In particular, we investigate people’s responses to appeals to reduce energy consumption and an information program promoting renewable electricity.

Paper long abstract:

Positioned in the midst of global and national discourses on sustainable development, ordinary men and women are also engaged in social practices of everyday life. How do people perceive the threats embedded in current discourses and how do they link these to their own lives? How do they respond to policies intended to modify their consumption in a sustainable direction and how do such policies match realities in everyday life? By focusing on electricity in Norway and France and people's perceptions and uses thereof, this paper seeks to uncover some of the links and disconnections between global discourses on sustainable energy and the cultural practices in which energy is embedded. In particular, we investigate people's responses to appeals to reduce energy consumption and an information program which was launched to make people purchase renewable electricity. Material has been collected through interviews and focus group discussions in Norway and France in 2009 in 2011. The paper also draws on the authors' ethnographic work on energy in other contexts.

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Uncertain futures: the cultural dynamics of energy transition