The local embedding of technologies through community-led initiatives: the case of sustainable energy

Barnes, Jake Peter (2016) The local embedding of technologies through community-led initiatives: the case of sustainable energy. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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It is widely acknowledged that existing low carbon technologies offer substantial means to reduce the carbon intensity of existing lifestyles. Yet the problem is not simply one of diffusion: commercially developed technologies need to be made to work in diverse local contexts of use. They need to be locally embedded. I approach the study of ‘local embedding’ through a particular actor, community-led energy initiatives and the broad research question: how are community-led energy initiatives seeking to integrate sustainable technologies into local contexts of use? I explore the agency of community activists to locally embed technologies and the context dynamics influencing how their projects develop.

In doing so, I identify a gap in current knowledge between the social embedding of technology by wider society (as conceptualised by sustainability transitions research) and the appropriation of technology by users (as conceptualised by domestication studies) and develop the concept of local embedding as a distinct conceptual contribution. Having identified community initiatives as performing a largely intermediary role I draw on insights from research on innovation intermediaries to understand their agency. A framework is constructed through building blocks from these approaches, then tested and refined through four comparative case studies on community attempts at local embedding.

The research contributes a novel process model on community-based intermediation for local embedding. I identify an ideal-typical sequence to key community-based intermediary processes and identify a variety of context dynamics influencing project development. As such I contribute to current discussions within (a) sustainability transitions research, about actors and their agency, and (b) innovation intermediaries research, identifying an under-studied intermediary working at the user-end of innovation processes and refine an existing framework on key intermediary processes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions > HC0079 Special topics, A-Z > HC0079.E5 Environmental policy and economic development. Sustainable development Including environmental economics
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2016 15:45
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2016 15:45

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