Materialising demand: transforming resources and services
(University of Helsinki)
Elizabeth Shove (Lancaster University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores how demand for resources and materials is derived from social practice. Re-introducing issues of demand to STS, it illustrates how increasing resource use can be addressed by seeing demand as dynamically constituted, actively made, and materially embedded.
Paper long abstract:
Science studies and theories of social practice have made important contributions to the understanding of materials in use, showing how things, tools and technologies relate to, and constitute what people do. There is more to say, however, about how the demand for resources and materials is derived from social practice. This paper explores the value of conceptualizing demand as an outcome of social practices. It argues that understanding how demand - including demand for an array of consumer goods, for electricity, or for objects of collective consumption like buildings and infrastructures - evolves it is important to investigate how material arrangements are instituted, and how they change at different scales. This requires histories of material arrangements, and of how these are interwoven and interlinked with histories of social practice. Linking these ideas together, the paper re-introduces issues of demand to science and technology studies: not as in simple 'demand-pull approaches', but as part of processes that are dynamically constituted, actively made, and materially embedded. The result is to illustrate how social theory can address increasing resource use, and can do so at different scales, and without recourse to 'externalised' concepts as developed within fields like economics and marketing.
Intersections and meetings between practice theory and STS