• No results found

Lessons from Ireland and The Gambia

4. Concluding discussion

As this paper has demonstrated, comparative, ethnographic research uncovers valuable insights into the complex dynamics of energy transitions at households and community level over time. This includes the socially differentiated ways in which change plays out over time. Cross-cultural historical and contemporary analyses of the Irish and Gambian cases reveal how dynamics in energy practices and cultures over time are deeply connected to broader intersecting institutional and political-economic changes. Despite two countries with distinct trajectories and levels of development, Ireland and The Gambia have represented useful contexts on which to base a comparative analysis. Their accounts indicate that the infrastructural interventions and policies of government, planning and societal institutions have played a key role in shaping and foreclosing opportunities for ways of conducting everyday practices, with major implications for energy systems. While a range of contextual forces emerged as significant in shaping the evolution of daily life, this short paper has focused only on several key dimensions, namely political-economic contexts, infrastructural change, social relations and networks and the social differentiation in the lived experience of change. In doing so it has sought to highlight the potential of a human-centred approach to energy research. However, a range of other insights and themes emerged that have not been discussed here in great depth, including a broader discussion of the ways in which developments have been shaped by wider trends and ideological influences of neoliberalism as well as transformations in normative life course pathways and patterns of biographic and spatial mobility. The findings of this investigation indicate that understanding dynamics of stability and change at a local scale is crucial for informing decision making and development interventions.

To date most research on energy transitions conducted from a longitudinal perspective focuses on technical or macro-level scales of analysis (cf. Grin et al., 2010). Comparatively less work considers the lived experience of change as it plays out over longer timescales. As the brief snapshot of findings presented in this paper suggests, an ethnographic perspective holds much potential for shedding light on ways in which lives, practices and contexts intersect in energy systems change (Walker, 2014; Greene, 2018). The authors argue that a human-centred approach to energy transitions which considers social differentiation in complex lived experiences is necessary to design more integrated, resilient and just energy futures. For example, the centrality of women in domestic practice provides important opportunities for interventions for sustainability including capacity building. It is suggested that decision makers should engage with ‘ordinary’ citizens to take their lived experience seriously in the design of interventions and policies and respond to the type of nuanced and experiential evidence generated through human-centred approaches to energy transitions.

Pan-European projects and research programmes tend to focus on developing world contexts. The authors argue that expanding the geographical remit further provides an important means of discerning processes of energy systems change as it intersects with social life from a more globalized perspective. Whilst acknowledging the particularities of distinct periods and places, this is important for uncovering universal logics and processes and trends of energy transitions in the context of climate justice and global resource ‘hinterlands’ (European Environment Agency, 2015, pp. 25-26; Catree, 2007). A particular challenge of this type of contextualized, comparative research is to secure smaller but regular amounts of funding. This is needed to build the relationships that enable ethnographic including immersive research of this kind by providing the opportunity for repeated international field work over longer periods of time and supporting cross-disciplinary collaboration. Such work would advance understanding of situated social processes implicated in energy systems change as they play out in diverse contexts and inform future policies and interventions. Another key challenge relates to the dissemination of findings from ethnographic, human- centred research to policy and decision makers that operate in a predominantly techno-centric and neoliberal context of development (Rau et al., 2017). Future research is needed to advance work to generate new empirical findings and understandings of complex social processes shaping energy transitions as well as address existing gaps in the dissemination of social science- and humanities-based energy transitions research more broadly.

5. Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank SHAPE ENERGY, which funded our collaboration in The Gambia in January 2018. We thank the Sambou family who hosted us during our stay and facilitated interviews and engagement with members of the Kartong community. We are grateful for the interview participants who patiently answered our questions. Finally, we also thank Lamin Jarjou for facilitating a meeting with high level stakeholders.

6. References

Bennett, O., 2001. Cultural pessimism: narratives of decline in the postmodern world Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Bhushan, C. and Kumar, J., 2012. Going remote: re-inventing the off-grid solar revolution for clean energy for all. New Delhi: Centre for Science and Environment.

Blue S., Greene, M. and Morosanu, R., 2014. Time and practice. In: C. Foulds and C.L. Jensen, eds. 2014.

Practices, the Built Environment and Sustainability - A Thinking Note Collection. Cambridge, Copenhagen and London: GSI, DIST, BSA CCSG.

Bouzarovski, S., Pasqualetti, M.J. and Castan Broto, V., 2017. Introduction. In: S. Bouzarovski, M.J. Pasqualetti and V. Castan Broto, eds. 2017. The Routledge Research Companion to Energy Geographies. London and New York: Routledge.

Brown, T., 2009. Change by design: how design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: Harper Business.

Castree, N., 2008. Neo-liberalising nature: processes, outcomes and effects. Environment and Planning A,

40(1), pp. 153-73.

Chambers, R., 2012. Provocations for development. Warwickshire: Practical Action.

Chamberlayne, P., Bornat, J. and Wengraf, T., 2000. Turn to biographical methods in social science: comparative issues and examples. London: Routledge.

Currie, P.K. and Musango J.K., 2016. African urbanization: assimilating urban metabolism into sustainability discourse and practice. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 21, pp. 1262-1276.

Elder, G.H., Johnson, M.K. and Crosnoe, R., 2003. The Emergence and Development of Life Course Theory. In: J.T. Mortimer and M.J. Shanahan, eds. 2003. Handbook of the Life Course. New York: Kluwer Academic and Plenum Publishers.

EPA, 2006. Environment in focus: environmental indicators for Ireland. Dublin: Environmental Protection Agency.

European Environment Agency, 2015. Urban sustainability issues - what is a resource-efficient city?

Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Girardet, H., 2008. Cities people planet: urban development and climate change. 2nd ed. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.

Greene, M., 2017. Paths, projects and careers of domestic practice: exploring dynamics of demand over biographical time. In: A. Hui, R. Day, and G. Walker, eds. 2017. Demanding energy: space, time and change. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers.

Greene, M., in press. Socio-technical change and dynamics in everyday energy practices. Global Environmental Change.

Greene, M. and Rau, H., 2018. Moving across the life course: the potential of a biographic approach to researching dynamics of everyday mobility practices. Journal of Consumer Culture, 18(1), pp. 60-82. Grin, J., Rotmans, J. and Schot, J., 2010. Transitions to sustainable development: New directions in the study of

long term transformative change. Oxon: Routledge.

Gunn, W., Otto, T. and Smith, R.C. eds., 2013. Design anthropology: theory and practice. London: Bloomsbury. Hards, S., 2012. Tales of transformation: The potential of a narrative approach to pro-environmental

practices. Geoforum, 43, pp. 760-771.

Henwood, K., Pidgeon, N., Groves, C., Shirani, F., Butler, C. and Parkhill, K., 2015. Energy Biographies Research Report. Cardiff: Cardiff University.

Jadama, R., 2015. 33 Kartong Youth Arraigned, Denied Bail. Foroyaa, [online] 25 November. Available at: <http://foroyaa.gm/33-kartong-youth-arraigned-denied-bail/> [Accessed 9 March 2018].

Kennedy, C., Cuddihy, J. and Engel-Yan, J., 2007. The Changing Metabolism of Cities. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 2(11), pp. 43-59.

McDonald, F. and Nix, J., 2005. Chaos at the crossroads. Cork: Gandon Books.

McGinnity, F., Russell, H., Williams, J. and Blackwell, J., 2005. Time-use in Ireland 2005: Survey report. Dublin: The Economic and Social Research Institute.

M’Bai, P.N., 2015. Gambia: Heavy fighting between protesting Kartong villagers, paramilitary policy and sand miners going on in The Gambia! Freedom Newspaper [online] 23 November. Available at: <https://freedomnewspaper.com/2015/11/23/gambia-heavy-fighting-protesting-kartong- villagers-paramilitary-police-sand-miners-going-gambia/> [Accessed 9 February 2018].

Rau, H., Goggins, G. and Fahy, F., 2017. From invisibility to impact: Recognising the scientific and societal relevance of interdisciplinary sustainability research. Research Policy, 47(1), pp. 266-276.

Schiffer, A., 2014. From remote island grids to urban solar co-operatives: community power Scotland. Edinburgh: Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Schiffer, A., 2016. Empowered, excited, or disenfranchised? Unveiling issues of energy access inequality and resource dependency in The Gambia. Energy Research and Social Science, 18, pp. 50-61.

Schiffer, A., 2017. Shared ownership in Scotland: opening up citizen participation in renewable energy.

Edinburgh: Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Scott, A., 2017. Why Wait? Seizing the Energy Access Dividend. Vienna and Washington: Sustainable Energy For All and Power for All.

Shove, E. and Walker, G., 2014. What Is Energy For? Social Practice and Energy Demand. Theory, Culture and Society, 31, pp. 41-58.

Vansintjan, D., 2015. The energy transition to energy democracy: power to the people: final results oriented report of the REScoop 20-20-20 Intelligent Energy Europe project. Berchem: REScoop.eu vzw.

Walker G., 2014. The dynamics of energy demand: change, rhythm and synchronicity. Energy Research and Social Science, 1, pp. 49-55.

West, L. and Merrill, B., 2009. Using biographical methods in social research. London: Sage.

Winther, T., 2008. The impact of electricity: development, desires and dilemmas. New York and Oxford: Berghahn.

Authors