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A personas-based approach to deliberating local decarbonisation scenarios: findings and methodological insights

Cherry, Catherine, Thomas, Gareth, Groves, Chris, Roberts, Erin, Shirani, Fiona, Henwood, Karen and Pidgeon, Nick 2022. A personas-based approach to deliberating local decarbonisation scenarios: findings and methodological insights. Energy Research and Social Science 87 , 102455. 10.1016/j.erss.2021.102455
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With the public deeply embedded at the heart of the energy system, it is essential that any transition is shaped by what is socially acceptable/desirable at local levels, taking account of any existing vulnerabilities within the local community. In this paper, we present a detailed description of a novel method for exploring local energy systems change with residents of Port Talbot, an industrial town in south Wales. Our persona-based approach asked small groups of local residents to explore place-based scenarios for energy systems change through the development of local characters or ‘personas’. By situating deliberation within a local context and grounding it in the emotional relationships that matter in residents' everyday lives, persona-based exploration provides a useful foundation upon which to conduct deliberation of complex socio-technical energy issues that can otherwise be presented and interpreted as quite abstract and technical visions of change. In particular we illustrate how this approach allowed participants to open up about their personal lives, as well as eliciting more sympathetic consideration of the needs of others by better orienting participants to the issues of vulnerability within their communities. Two key processes of persona development enabled this: 1) the incorporation of personal identities, circumstances, or histories (both of themselves or friends/family) within personas, and 2) the embodiment of shared social understandings of local industrial and community decline within personas. As such, we believe that persona-based exploration offers a valuable tool for deepening emotional and context specific public deliberations around energy systems transitions and sociotechnical change more broadly.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 2214-6296
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 December 2021
Date of Acceptance: 3 December 2021
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2022 16:25

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