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‘The bills are a brick wall’: narratives of energy vulnerability, poverty and adaptation in South Wales

Groves, Christopher ORCID:, Shirani, Fiona, Pidgeon, Nicholas ORCID:, Cherry, Catherine ORCID:, Thomas, Gareth ORCID:, Roberts, Erin ORCID: and Henwood, Karen ORCID: 2020. ‘The bills are a brick wall’: narratives of energy vulnerability, poverty and adaptation in South Wales. Energy Research and Social Science 70 , 101777. 10.1016/j.erss.2020.101777

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Recent energy and social science scholarship has proposed the concept of energy vulnerability as a better and more inclusive indicator of energy injustice than dominant definitions of fuel poverty, which can exclude a range of households who nevertheless have difficulties accessing energy services. Energy vulnerability is defined as a propensity under certain circumstances to suffer loss of access to energy services, leading to deficits in key capabilities. Often characterised in the literature as a dynamic condition of instability, energy vulnerability is seen as being best understood using qualitative methods, given how it arises out of interactions between household characteristics and wider socio-material conditions. Analysis of qualitative longitudinal data, produced from three rounds of interviews carried out in a community in south Wales, UK, offers insights into how, as a dynamic condition, energy vulnerability may arise out of complex interactions between socio-material conditions, household characteristics, and capabilities. Further, it is shown how such methods help understand how the outcomes of these interactions can depend on their specific tempo or pace of change, and also upon how household responses to such interactions play out over time. In particular, the different ways in which households adapt to energy vulnerability are explored, which makes it possible to elucidate how the formation of adaptive preferences can play an additional role in undermining capabilities.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Uncontrolled Keywords: adaptive preferences; agency; energy vulnerability; capabilities; energy justice; energy poverty
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 2214-6296
Funders: Welsh European Funding Office, Welsh Government
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 September 2020
Date of Acceptance: 10 September 2020
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2024 18:29

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