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Title: Socio-material constructs of domestic energy demand : household and housing practices in Pakistan
Author: Khalid, Rihab
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 9765
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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Domestic energy demand in the Global South is predicted to grow to nearly three times that of the developed nations by 2040, under rapid urbanisation, economic development and the emergence of a new, high-consuming middle-class. Current energy policy, with its largely technological template and economic focus fails to address the ways of living and patterns of demand that emerge and evolve as a result of the specific socio-material and cultural contexts that underpin how the need for energy arises and evolves. This research adopts a socio-technical perspective to explore various nexuses of practices and spatial arrangements of urban housing that have emerged, persisted and transformed over time, giving rise to unsustainable levels of electricity consumption in middle-class housing in Lahore, Pakistan. It further investigates how household practices fit within the wider system of housing practices and how this can inform low-energy interventions in house design and use. The research combines practice theories from the social sciences with architectural knowledge of spatial agency to explore the interlinked social and material structures that form domestic electricity demand. This is achieved through a mixed-methods approach including semi-structured interviews with homeowners and housing practitioners, cross-cultural comparative analysis, house case-studies, oral history narratives, environmental monitoring, spatiotemporal mapping of household practice-arrangements through time-use diaries as well a detailed review of archival documents relating to building regulations and house plans. The study highlights the significance of local socio-material and cultural context in everyday household practices and resulting electricity demands. It reveals that understanding the longitudinal dynamics of practice-arrangements and their diversity in cross-cultural contexts can help identify and prevent normalisation of unsustainable configurations that gradually become embedded in social structures and practices. It shows how a shift from outdoor to indoor activities, transformation from inward- to outward-oriented design and a spatial dispersion of practices have resulted in increased household electricity consumption. It further highlights the implications of cross-cultural transfer of technology and demand response strategies that are bound by local socio-cultural and material dynamics in the performance, bundling and synchronisation of practices. The study makes the connections between “good” and “bad” housing and household practices visible and identifies various energy transitions needed in housing practices that, through interventions in house design, can lead to less energy intensive household practice-arrangements.
Supervisor: Sunikka-Blank, Minna Sponsor: Cambridge Commonwealth ; European and International Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Energy demand ; Household practices ; Housing practices ; Middle-class ; Socio-technical ; Global South