Publisher: Department of Sociology, Lund University
Households base their choices of heating systems on subjectively dependent conceptions of heating sources, rather than on an understanding of a complex reality. Similar to other agents in society, households need to construct simplified frames to be able to make their choices possible to manage. Using in-depth interviews with households in Småland (in Sweden) with a few comparisons from Massachusetts (in the USA), the study has identified a number of frames through which households simplify the financial, practical and ecolological complexities of various heating systems. The households have been sampled strategically in order to generate a broad range of household responses. Various heating systems – based on bioenergi, electricity, and fossil fuels – are covered in the study. Objective household categories (e.g., age, generation, housing type or size), frequently covered in previous studies, have a weak connection to choices of energy systems. Instead, this study has elaborated on four subjective household categories more closely correlated with energy system choices: the energy implementors, the planners, the visionaries, and the resigned. The report argues that an understanding of subjective household categories and frame constructions are useful as various energy actors try to collaborate with households toward different heating systems. This understanding is especially important for the transition to and maintenance of bioenergy solutions. However, it is crucial that such collaboration not be reduced to “learning about misunderstandings and knowledge gaps among households in order to correct them.” Rather, the type of collaboration that we call for concern taking into account, and learning from, various types of priorities and experiences which are reflected in the frame constructions among the household categories.
Sociologist with a broad, human scientific interest in social, economic and evolutionary dimensions of environmental and health related problems.
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