Burningham K, Barnett J, Carr A, Clift R, Wehrmeyer W (2007) Industrial constructions of publics and public knowledge: a qualitative investigation of practice in the UK chemicals industry, Public Understanding of Science 16 (1) pp. 23-43
While the rhetoric of public engagement is increasingly commonplace within industry, there has been little research that examines how lay knowledge is conceptualized and whether it is really used within companies. Using the chemicals sector as an example, this paper explores how companies conceive of publics and "public knowledge," and how this relates to modes of engagement/communication with them. Drawing on qualitative empirical research in four companies, we demonstrate that the public for industry are primarily conceived as "consumers" and "neighbours," having concerns that should be allayed rather than as groups with knowledge meriting engagement. We conclude by highlighting the dissonance between current advocacy of engagement and the discourses and practices prevalent within industry, and highlight the need for more realistic strategies for industry/public engagement.
Clift R, Burningham K, Lofstedt R (1995) Environmental Perspectives and Environmental Assessment, In: Guerrier Y (eds.), Values and the environment: A Social Science Perspective pp. 19-31 Wiley
This book examines the multitude of ways in which we value the environment from a social science perspective.
Research on product life-spans tends to link the causes of psychological obsolescence with end-users and product designers, and posits the consequences of obsolescence in terms of increasing e-waste and energy use. Drawing upon qualitative fieldwork conducted with employees of a global computer firm and users of its laptop computers this article brings together the poles of production and consumption to explore the dynamics of de-stabilization in product qualities, connecting the intensification of this process to psychological obsolescence and unsustainable patterns of consumption. First, we demonstrate that consumer-facing functions within the firm such as user research, sales and marketing play a key role in driving the pace of technological change within the firm by specifying consumer demand. We argue that by distilling an imaginary demanding consumer from various sources, the firm justifies and drives rapid de-stabilization in product qualities and specifications. We show how this prompts end consumers to constantly re-evaluate product qualities, devaluing existing products and contributing to psychological obsolescence and disposal of functioning products. We then go on to discuss the environmental implications of this process, suggesting that whilst premature disposal due to perceived obsolescence may not increase waste in the short term, it is still likely to contribute to an increase in material and energy use in manufacturing.
UK energy policy contains ambitious goals for increased deployment of renewable energy technologies (RETs), but concern remains about the potential of local opposition to obstruct proposed developments. Despite emerging academic consensus that characterizing opposition to RET siting as NIMBYism is problematic, the discourse remains strong in popular debate. This article responds to calls for sociological research on both ascriptions of NIMBYism and the use of deficit models. Through an analysis of interviews with key actors in the renewable energy industry, we explore the ways in which a discourse of NIMBYism is evident in their descriptions of local wind farm opponents. We conceptualize this discourse as embodying an array of deficit models of the public and public knowledge. This is significant not only because developers' constructions of publics inform their modes of engagement with them, but also because they may influence public responses themselves.
Burningham K (2012) NIMByism, In: Smith SJ, Elsinga M, Fox O'Mahony L, Eng O, Wachter S, Lovell J (eds.), International Encyclopedia of Housing and Home 5 pp. 127-130 Elsevier
This article provides a critical introduction to the concept of NIMBYism. NIMBY is an acronym from N(ot) I(n) M(y) B(ack) Y(ard) used to describe opponents of new developments who recognise that a facility or technology is needed but are opposed to its siting within their locality. The article starts by discussing the origin of the concept and indicates some of the complexity in the literature. Alternative ways of understanding local opposition (as ignorant, selfish, or based on valid concerns and interests) and corresponding ways of responding to it are outlined. Research has increasingly moved away from a focus on the negative attributes of individual opponents as ignorant and selfish to engage with the broader motivations and contexts of local opposition. The article concludes by documenting recent calls for an end to using the language of NIMBYism.
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015The current generation of older people who are approaching or recently experiencing retirement form part of a unique generational habitus who have experienced a cultural shift into consumerism. These baby boomers are often portrayed as engaging in excessive levels of consumption which are counter to notions of sustainable living and to intergenerational harmony. This paper focuses on an exploration of the mechanisms underpinning the consumption patterns of baby boomers as they retire. We achieve this through an understanding of the everyday practices of grocery shopping which have the potential to give greater clarity to patterns of consumption than the more unusual or ?extraordinary? forms of consumption such as global travel. In-depth interviews with 40 older men and women in four locations across England and Scotland were conducted at three points in time across the period of retirement. We suggest that the grocery shopping practices of these older men and women were influenced by two factors: (a) parental values and upbringing leading to the reification of thrift and frugality as virtues, alongside aspirations for self-actualisation such as undertaking global travel, and (b) the influence of household context, and caring roles, on consumption choices. We conclude with some tentative observations concerning the implications of the ways baby boomers consume in terms of increasing calls for people to live in more sustainable ways.
To date analyses of media climate change constructions have mostly focused on coverage in western newspapers. Consideration of coverage in developing countries, and analyses of media constructions alongside local understandings of climate change are comparatively rare. This article provides an analysis of the construction of climate change on Nepalese radio and lay constructions of environment and climate change within the country. Data from a radio programme and six focus groups are analysed. Analysis of the radio programme indicated that climate change was portrayed as a certain reality with national impacts caused by the actions of the West. While climate change dominated the radio headlines, in focus groups local environmental problems received far more attention. The paper aims to both inform directions for future climate change communication in Nepal and the wider research agenda.
Flooding has only relatively recently been considered as an environmental justice issue. In this paper we focus on flooding as a distinct form of environmental risk and examine some of the key evidence and analysis that is needed to underpin an environmental justice framing of flood risk and flood impacts. We review and examine the UK situation and the body of existing research literature on flooding to fill out our understanding of the patterns of social inequality that exist in relation to both flood risk exposure and vulnerability to the diverse impacts of flooding. We then consider the various ways in which judgements might be made about the injustice or justice of these inequalities and the ways in which they are being sustained or responded to by current flood policy and practice. We conclude that there is both evidence of significant inequalities and grounds on which claims of injustice might be made, but that further work is needed to investigate each of these. The case for pursuing the framing of flooding as an environmental justice issue is also made.
The public? are potentially implicated in processes of sociotechnical change as political actors who welcome or resist technology development in general, or in particular places and settings. We argue in this paper that the potential influence of public subjectivities on sociotechnical change is realised not only through moments of active participation and protest, but also through ?the public? being imagined, given agency, and invoked for various purposes by actors in technical ? industrial and policy networks. As a case study we explore the significance of an imagined and anticipated public subjectivity for the development of renewable energy technologies in the UK. We use interviews with a diversity of industry and policy actors to explore how imaginaries of the public are constructed from first-hand and mediated experience and knowledge, and the influence these imagined public subjectivities may have on development trajectories and on actor strategies and activities. We show how the shared expectation of an ever present latent but conditional public hostility to renewable energy project development is seen as shaping the material forms of the technologies, their evolving spatiality, and practices of public engagement involved in obtaining project consent. Implications for the actors we are interested in and for broader questions of democratic practice are considered.
Walker M, Whittle R, Medd W, Burningham K, Moran-Ellis J, Tapsell S (2012) 'It came up to here': Learning from children's flood narratives, Children's Geographies 10 (2) pp. 135-150 Taylor & Francis
The growing body of literature that seeks to understand the social impacts of flooding has failed to recognise the value of children's knowledge. Working with a group of flood-affected children in Hull using a storyboard methodology, this paper argues that the children have specific flood experiences that need to be understood in their own right. In this paper, we consider the ways in which the disruption caused by the flood revealed and produced new - and sometimes hidden - vulnerabilities and forms of resilience and we reflect on the ways in which paying attention to children's perspectives enhances our understanding of resilience. © 2012 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Against the backdrop of the imperatives for actors within the institutional framework of energy socio-technical systems to engage with the public, the aim of this paper is to consider interdependencies between the principles and practice of engagement and the nature of the imagined publics with whom engagement is being undertaken. Based on an analysis of 19 interviews with actors in the renewable energy industry, the paper explores how publics are imagined in the construction of the rationales, functions and mechanisms for public engagement. Three main themes are identified. First, the perceived necessity of engagement ? which is not contingent on public responsiveness. Second, engagement is primarily conceptualised in terms of instrumental motives of providing information and addressing public concern. Third, preferences for engagement mechanisms were often a function of the specific characteristics attributed to imagined publics. Implications of this analysis for future engagement around siting renewable energy technologies are considered.
The considerable literature on domestic energy consumption practices has tended to focus on either the (re)production and contestation of normative imaginaries, or the links between escalating standards and energy use. Far less has been written which links these related areas together. Accordingly, this paper is positioned at the intersection of debates on domestic consumption, energy use, and home cultures. Through a qualitative study of laptop use in the home, we illustrate how energy-intensive practices, such as ?always-on-ness?, and changing computer ecologies and infrastructures, are intimately bound up with the reproduction of particular domestic imaginaries of family and home. A key insight in this paper is that a purely physiological conception of comfort would fail to explain fully why practices such as always-on-ness emerge, and thus we theorise comfort as an accomplishment comprised of inseparable temporal, bodily, spatial, and material elements. Ultimately, we argue here that comfort needs to be understood as a multivalent imaginary that is itself bound up in broader idealised notions of family and home in order to comprehend shifting practices, computing ecologies, and rising energy consumption.
Burningham K, Fielding J, Thrush D (2008) ??It?ll never happen to me?: Understanding Public Awareness of Local Flood Risk?, Disasters: The Journal of Disaster Studies, Policy and Management 32 (2) pp. 216-238 Wiley
Following the severe flood events of 1998 and 2000, the United Kingdom's Environment Agency prioritised the need to increase public flood risk awareness. Drawing on data collected during research undertaken for the Environment Agency, this paper contributes to understanding of one aspect of flood awareness: people's recognition that their property is in an area that is potentially at risk of flooding. Quantitative analyses indicate that class is the most influential factor in predicting flood risk awareness, followed by flood experience and length of time in residence. There are also significant area differences. Our qualitative work explores how those defined as ?at risk? account for their lack of awareness or concern about their risk status. We conclude that the problem is often not simply a lack of awareness, but rather, assessments of local risk based on experience that underestimate the impact of rare or extreme events. We underline the importance of engaging with local perspectives on risk and making local people part of ?awareness-raising? processes.
Benzie M, Harvey A, Burningham K, Hodgson N, Siddiqi A (2011) Vulnerability to heatwaves
and drought. Case studies of adaptation to climate change in South-west England, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
What it means to be vulnerable to climate change and how early examples of climate change adaptation may affect vulnerable groups in society.
Climate change will, among other impacts, bring increased risks to health and well-being from more frequent and intense heatwaves, as well as increased droughts threatening the security of affordable water supplies in the UK.
introduces the concept of vulnerability to climate change within the context of social justice;
examines two early case studies of adaptation in the south-west of England: the implementation of the national Heatwave Plan; and the trend towards differential water pricing based on usage (including the trial of a rising block tariff for water); and
highlights the need for a more systematic consideration of current and future vulnerabilities in local, sectoral and national adaptation planning.
This article analyzes an online discussion that followed an article published by UK environmental activist and journalist George Monbiot in The Guardian online newspaper. The analysis addresses the ways in which participants in an online forum debate responded to the tensions and contradictions between lifestyle, consumption, and sustainability highlighted in the original article. The discursive construction of class, green political orientations, and identities; visions of ?the good life?; and appeals to religion and science are highlighted throughout the analysis?as are the discursive strategies for positioning self, other, and audience in the debate. The argument emphasizes the heterogeneity of discursive positioning and reflects on the role of social media in the politics of consumption and sustainability, especially given the inherent reflexivity of web forums as online communicative forms.
Walker G, Devine-Wright P, Barnett J, Burningham K, Cass N, Devine-Wright H, Speller G, Barton J, Evans B, Heath Y, Infield D, Parks J, Theobald K (2010) Symmetries, expectations, dynamics and contexts: a framework for understanding public engagement with renewable energy projects, In: Devine-Wright P (eds.), Renewable Energy and the Public: From Nimby to Participation 1 pp. 2-14 Earthscan / Routledge, Taylor & Francis
As this book ably demonstrates, there is a growing body of research on public beliefs, reactions and responses to large-scale renewable energy projects of various forms, often focused on case studies of controversy and local conflict. The profile of available cases has expanded significantly, covering a diversity of locations and contexts around the world and a wide range of types of renewable energy technology and modes of project development. Alongside the reporting of empirical research, there have also been various attempts to describe and characterize public responses to renewable energy projects and develop explanatory frameworks or predictive models. These include the NIMBY (?Not in my back yard?) explanations of public opposition that are often favoured in media reporting and political debate (Toynbee, 2007), broad frameworks for thinking about social acceptance (Wüstenhagen et al, 2007) and statistical models that characterize and measure variables that are believed to predict the nature of public opposition (Wolsink, 2000) or planning decision outcomes (Toke et al, 2008).
Atkinson G, Doick K, Burningham KA, France C (2014) ?Brownfield regeneration to greenspace: Delivery of project objectives for social and environmental gain?., Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 2 pp. 161-178 Elsevier
Research examining the relationship between place and identity shows that the experience of places influences a person's process of identification, through which an emotional bond with the place may be developed. However, the implications of this literature for land restoration remain unexplored. This is partially due to a gap in empirical research that explores the performance of identities in environmentally degraded settings. This article examines the relationship between identity and place among residents living around five coal ash disposal sites in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The article develops a qualitative model to understand the emergence of divergent responses toward the pollution and illustrates that in an environmentally degraded setting the bonds between the individuals and the place are not necessarily dislocated; in some cases, these bonds may be even reinforced by the performance of adaptative identities in response to environmental change.
This study explores how energy might be conceptualised as a commons, a resource owned and managed by a community with a system of rules for production and consumption. It tests one aspect of Elinor Ostrom?s design principles for successful management of common pool resources: that there should be community accountability for individual consumption behaviour. This is explored through interviews with participants in a community demand response (DR) trial in an urban neighbourhood in the UK. Domestic DR can make a contribution to balancing electricity supply and demand. This relies on smart meters, which raise vertical (individual to large organisation) privacy concerns. Community and local approaches could motivate greater levels of DR than price signals alone. We found that acting as part of a community is motivating, a conclusion which supports local and community based roll out of smart meters. Mutually supportive, voluntary, and anonymous sharing of information was welcomed. However, mutual monitoring was seen as an invasion of horizontal (peer to peer) privacy. We conclude that the research agenda, which asks whether local commons-based governance of electricity systems could provide social and environmental benefits, is worth pursuing further. This needs a shift in regulatory barriers and ?governance-system neutral? innovation funding.
The idea that lifecourse transitions might offer ?moments of change? in which to encourage more sustainable consumption is popular. However insights from sociological literature on lifecourse transitions have rarely been brought to bear on this assumption and little research explores how everyday consumption may change through such transitions.
This paper focuses on two distinct lifecourse transitions - becoming a mother and retirement ? and through qualitative longitudinal research evaluates the assumption that such periods provide opportunities for movement to more sustainable consumption. Three interviews were conducted with 40 new mothers and 40 retirees in the UK exploring change and continuity in aspects of everyday consumption. While our findings confirm that these are times of significant change with potential impacts on the sustainability of everyday consumption, we conclude that to characterise such transitions as ?moments of change? fails to adequately capture their lived experience.
Understanding individual energy use can inform interventions for energy conservation. A longitudinal qualitative interview study shows that energy use behavior is not simply a matter of individual choice, but rather is influenced by unique personal circumstances and familial and social relationships, which change over time.
This paper explores when environmentally sustainable consumption occurs for new mothers, and how their constructions of sustainable lifestyles align with, or are challenged, by the everyday priorities of family life.
The study involved longitudinal qualitative research with new mothers. Interviews focused on how ordinary consumption shifted or remained stable, with sustainability only being explicitly discussed in the final interview.
Environmentally sustainable modes of consumption were adopted when they were considered to be in synergy with the over-riding project of doing family. Participants constructed environmental sustainability as an ideal at odds with the reality of everyday family life. We suggest there is a need for greater attention to the gender and relational dimensions of environmentally sustainable practice, and for the promotion of holistic discourses of sustainable consumption which align sustainable living with the maintenance of family life.
Government and industry increasingly face challenges resulting from resource scarcity and climate change. By reducing carbon emissions whilst promoting resource efficiency and business development, industrial symbiosis has been recognised as a strategy to manage these challenges. Industrial symbiosis can be interpreted as the innovative use of waste from one company as a resource for another company, i.e. waste-to-resource innovation. These resource innovations involve the development of relations between waste producers and users, and often governmental organisations and other actors. A review of industrial symbiosis and relevant network and innovation literature concluded that empirical understanding of the implementation of industrial symbiosis, and consequently how it can be promoted by public and private organisations, needed considerable improvement. Hence, a qualitative empirical exploration was conducted to answer the question: How and why did industrial symbiosis develop over time? The exploration was carried out in the Humber region (UK) and, with several bio-based developments emerging in the area, focused on biowaste-to-resource innovation. Case studies with companies revealed: the social process through which resource partnerships developed; important contextual conditions (resource security, economic benefits, and governance); and varying network diversification and strengthening strategies. Analysing these innovations in their longer-term dynamic contexts revealed different business-responses to context-changes through their varying innovation and government-engagement strategies. Some companies were constrained by poor harmonisation of economic and various governmental drivers. In particular, since 2012, regional governance capacity for biowaste-to-resource innovation decreased while such innovations gained momentum at national government level. These findings have added to understanding of variation in factors and processes associated with implementing industrial symbiosis through company activities, strategies, and collaborations; and the relations between context dynamics, evolution of industrial symbiosis networks, and on-going business development. The level of detail revealed in this inductive empirical research contributed to identifying numerous further research directions. Moreover, practical recommendations were provided to companies and governmental organisations supporting the promotion of industrial symbiosis and contributing to the on-going transition to a more resource efficient and circular economy.
This paper considers the intersection of institutional mechanisms for creating
and maintaining commons with mechanisms that increase or decrease inequalities
in wealth, power and dignity. This is explored in the context of the development
of local energy systems, based on a case study in a UK city. It explores
different conceptions of fairness and equality among those working towards a
local sustainable energy transition, and how this affects the way that inequality
manifests, is perpetuated, and is challenged. The paper explores the inclusion
and exclusion of participants in the community energy sector, which has been
criticised for being mainly white, middle class and male; the distribution of
financial benefit from renewable energy through community investment or municipal
ownership; and the focus on people in fuel poverty relative to people
who overconsume energy. It concludes that although a commons approach to
local energy can risk exacerbating inequalities, it also provides opportunities
for increasing equality, of wealth, power and individual dignity. These require
commitment, and need to be designed into evolving local institutions.
The purpose of this paper is to draw on data from 16 interviews (two each with eight women) to explore some of the ways in which everyday shopping may change as women become mothers. The meanings, practices and implications of the transition to motherhood have long been a topic for sociological inquiry. Recently, interest has turned to the opportunities offered by this transition for the adoption of more sustainable lifestyles. Becoming a mother is likely to lead to changes in a variety of aspects of everyday life such as travel, leisure, cooking and purchase of consumer goods, all of which have environmental implications. The environmental impacts associated with such changes are complex, and positive moves toward more sustainable activities in one sphere may be offset by less environmentally positive changes elsewhere.
This paper draws on data from 16 interviews (two each with eight women) to explore some of the ways in which everyday shopping may change as women become mothers.
This paper focuses on the ways in which modes and meanings of everyday shopping may shift through the transition to mother, and on indicating any potential sustainability implications. The paper explores the adoption of more structured shopping and of shifting the mode of grocery shopping online or offline. The paper draws attention to the way in which practices are embedded and interrelated and argue that more consideration needs to be given to the influence of all household members.
The question here is not whether women purchase different products or consume more once they have a child, but rather how does the everyday activity of shopping for groceries and the meanings it has change with new motherhood and what sustainability implications might this have? In this context, this paper provides a novel addition to research on new mothers and consumption.
As the use of agent-based models (ABMs) in policy making continues to expand, it is increasingly clear what a variety of uses ABMs can be put to. Using the development of the SWAP model of soil and water conservation (SWC) adoption in developing countries, this thesis explores how a non-predictive policy-focused ABM can be useful in policy and theoretical contexts.
Policies designed to increase adoption of SWC have generally been unsuccessful due to poor calibration to farmers? needs. This is understood to be a result of poor interaction between the various stakeholders working on SWC.
The SWAP model is developed: (i) as an ?interested amateur? to be used as a discussion tool to improve the quality of interaction between policy stakeholders; and (ii) as an exploration of the theory on farmer behaviour in the SWC literature. This approach was underpinned by a set of semi-structured interviews with policy practitioners on their understanding, use, and evaluation of models used in policy.
The model?s use as an ?interested amateur? was explored during a workshop with stakeholders in Ethiopia. Participants recognised the value of the model and it was successful in aiding discussion. However, participants described an inability to innovate in their work, and viewed stakeholders ?lower-down? the policy spectrum as being in more need of discussion tools.
A pattern-oriented modelling approach showed that the theory used in the model is successful in recreating broad patterns of adoption, but is too generic to represent a variety of different contexts.
This thesis develops and presents the first use of the ?interested amateur? approach for ABMs. The findings suggest it has value and could be applied in other policy domains. The performance of the SWC theory is also encouraging, suggesting it can be used as a basis for other ABMs exploring farmers? SWC behaviour.
While the consumerist approach to what living well can mean permeates traditional media, the extent to which it appears in people?s own depictions of the good life is unclear. As the unsustainability of the consumerist approach is increasingly evidenced, both in terms of environmental and social impacts, looking into which understandings of the good life resonate with people becomes essential. This article uses a sample of posts tagged #goodlife and variants originally collected in 2014-2015 on Instagram (a popular image sharing platform) to explore which understandings of the good life can be found on the platform.
Using multimodal discourse analysis, it highlights two different user generated understandings of the good life: ?working on future goals? and ?appreciating the present moment?. We argue that neither approach is directly or necessarily congruent with the traditional consumer good life. Yet their shared photographic codes with advertisements can contribute to their framing into the consumer good life.
Additionally, the temporalities afforded by the platform and currently in place through social conventions may affect the type of narratives that are mediated. While the understandings derived from the analysis are not straightforward reflections of people?s beliefs about the meaning of the good life, they constitute conversations that at once inform, and are informed by, users? beliefs about living well. The popularity of the platform makes these conversations crucial for anyone interested in desired lifestyles and their sustainability.