My final leg of my RIA Charlemont funded postdoctoral research trip has brought me to the beautiful city of Dunedin, where I am visiting the Centre of Sustainability at the University of Otago. It’s such a pretty university, with a distinct cultural vibe. During my time here, I am delighted to be in a position to network with a range of scholars researching the social dimensions of energy cultures and transitions, including Janet Stephenson, Ben Anderson and others.
I’m also very excited to have had the opportunity to expose my work to the scrutiny of scholars whose work I have admired from afar. This morning I presented my recent work exploring the role that social institutions play in shaping daily life and action (and the resource implications that emerge from it!). The title of my seminar, ‘Governing everyday life: the role of societal institutions in shaping demand’, draws on in-depth biographic accounts of social change from my doctoral research to illustrate how macro-level policy and societal processes have shaped everyday life in Ireland over time.
This stimulated a great discussion on methodological developments in practice theory. Here we discussed the particular potential and importance of longitudinal research approaches and biographic-narrative forms of inquiry for shedding light on complex processes of change that often remain overlooked or unseen as they are occurring. Discussion also centred on broader questions on the relative role of individual agency and societal forces in shaping action.