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Environmental Change Institute Gavin Killip, BEHAVE conference Oxford, 3-4 September 2014 The role of professional intermediaries in decision-making: Actor-Network.

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Presentation on theme: "Environmental Change Institute Gavin Killip, BEHAVE conference Oxford, 3-4 September 2014 The role of professional intermediaries in decision-making: Actor-Network."— Presentation transcript:

1 Environmental Change Institute Gavin Killip, BEHAVE conference Oxford, 3-4 September 2014 The role of professional intermediaries in decision-making: Actor-Network Theory & Social Practice Theory

2 Gavin Killip, BEHAVE conference Oxford, 3-4 September 2014 Page 2 Aims  Provide some insights into the working lives of small builders  Compare and contrast 2 theoretical approaches using the same set of interview data  Comment on qualitative research methods for studying policy- led future change (cf. quantitative models and scenarios)

3 Why study small builders?  Most (?all) low-carbon scenarios include ambitious building renovation programmes  Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) dominate the existing markets for repair, maintenance and improvement  Therefore, renovation programmes will involve:  EITHER, recruiting the existing SMEs to the task  OR, replacing them with someone else  Either way, it helps to understand the incumbent SMEs  NB the aim was NOT to elicit opinions about climate change Page 3 Gavin Killip, BEHAVE conference Oxford, 3-4 September 2014

4 Methodology: how to study the future?  Low-energy renovation of building stocks is an example of a target-led transition, which needs to be coordinated and aggregated (Rotmans 2005) => not a historic case study  Underlying assumption: innovative practices are revealing of current context and possible future practices  Specific interview questions to explore innovation:  When did you last use a new product for the first time?  If I was a manufacturer trying to persuade you to use my new product, what would be your thought processes in deciding whether or not to try it?  The use of hypothetical questions seems to have worked Page 4 Gavin Killip, BEHAVE conference Oxford, 3-4 September 2014

5 Data and data collection  16 semi-structured interviews with SMEs in construction-related sectors (builders, electricians, plumbers etc)  Carried out in 2008; average interview length ~70 minutes  Published in Energy Policy (Killip 2013)  More recent work too (‘Building Expertise’ EP/H051163/1)  Not a big enough sample to claim any statistical significance  … this is exploratory – not representative  SME construction firms are hard to reach for research  My own experiences of low-energy renovation undoubtedly influenced my approach and the data I managed to gather Page 5 Gavin Killip, BEHAVE conference Oxford, 3-4 September 2014

6 ANT and SPT in a nutshell Actor-Network Theory  Human and non-human actors (‘actants’) all have agency  Observed behaviours are the outcome of negotiations (‘translation’) between actants  Translation may lead to ‘enrolment’ or ‘dissidence’ of other actants Page 6 Social Practice Theory Practice theory side-steps the structure/agency dualism Practices have 3 ‘elements’ People are ‘carriers’ of practice; practices ‘recruit’ carriers COMPETENCE MATERIAL MEANING Gavin Killip, BEHAVE conference Oxford, 3-4 September 2014

7 Selective lists of past studies ANT studiesSPT studies The role of advisors in agricultural policy Plans for change in a scallop fishery Wetland agri-environment policy Gardening as interaction of plants and people Recycling urban waste on farmland Installers’ views of condensing boilers Practices of SME construction firms A town adopting a district heating system Skate-boarding Hula-hooping Nordic walking Showering Doing laundry Commuter cycling Driving Snowboarding Repairing photocopiers Freezing food (having a freezer) Renovating a home Page 7 Gavin Killip, BEHAVE conference Oxford, 3-4 September 2014

8 Understanding builders 1: ANT approach  Builders are practical, flexible, good at problem-solving …  … like to be autonomous, ‘own boss’  … wary of demanding or difficult clients  … take pride in their work and their place in communities  Conservatism rules but innovations do occur:  good client + time and money to innovate = best conditions  Cost is important but so are: product reliability, availability, familiarity  Regulations are both minimum and maximum … and sometimes have to be bent  Attitudes to - and experience of - training are mixed Page 8 Gavin Killip, BEHAVE conference Oxford, 3-4 September 2014

9 It’s a job, pays the bills. Take pride, enjoy autonomy. Have to deal with customers, regulators, suppliers, paperwork … Manual skills, practical problem- solving, managing time, sussing out clients, formal / informal training Products, buildings, tools, physical constraints. Link to cost, reliability, compatibility … Understanding builders 2: SPT approach Page 9 COMPETENCE MATERIAL MEANING Conflicts between personal values and industry values Gavin Killip, BEHAVE conference Oxford, 3-4 September 2014

10 What does the comparison show?  SPT tends to (?over-)emphasise stability  ANT tends to (?over-)emphasise instability  Most SPT studies have been of domestic routines and leisure pursuits, ie the actors have been unambiguous  Most ANT studies have been of multi-actor interactions  An individual may carry multiple practices (sometimes conflicting) => multiple identities (eg citizen, consumer, family member, volunteer, employee, entrepreneur)  Where one-off decisions are being made, and multiple actors are involved, we need to match PRACTICES and ACTORS Page 10 Gavin Killip, BEHAVE conference Oxford, 3-4 September 2014

11 April 21, 2015 Presentation title, edit in header and footer (view menu) Page 11 Thank you. Comments or questions?


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