Accepted paper:

Are smart electricity display-monitors smart enough to disrupt the everyday?


Máté János Lőrincz (University of Reading)

Paper short abstract:

This paper provides an empirical examination of the lived experiences and energy-usage outcomes of the application of smart energy monitoring technologies within student household. It employs a social practice theory perspective in order to explore the ways in which such technologies are appropriated into daily lives, providing insight into, and possible explanation of, the effects that smart monitoring can have. In doing so, the research demonstrates that smart monitors have an effect, but cannot be explained through rational calculations, which confound the dominant framing of such technologies within paradigms that privilege methodological individualism.

Paper long abstract:

Disruptive life course events often prompt us to re-consider the 'everyday' and it can provide a 'window of opportunity' for innovations and behavioural change. Disruptions (such as moving house) - temporary breakdowns in the flow of events - are central to understanding the norms, practices and technologies that construct the socially accepted definition of normality: disruptions allow us to investigate what is actually perceived as normal (Warde 2005, Shove et al. 2012). More importantly, disruptions allows us to investigate the 'situated process of gathering the knowledge' required to accomplish practices and achieve change (Nicolini 2011, Roberts 2006). In this perspective, disruption would reveal how 'know-how' (or embodied habits, Gram-Hanssen 2011) is learned, travel between moments of performance and how they change and 'fossilise' (Shove et al. 2012). This presentation is informed by research with newly established student households and their evolving electricity consumption practices. Following Strengers et al. (2014) argument that electricity consumption is a social process within a home, I will explore whether and how smart electricity-display monitors shifts the distribution of 'know-how' within students' homes, including its distribution between human and non-human entities (Watson et al. 2008). In conclusion, I will ask whether this process helps in understanding the 'everyday' where the home and its residents transform one another (Pink et al. 2012).

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Encounters between people, things and environments
The social life of smart homes