Accepted Paper:

Towards the emergence of a zero carbon building sector in France: reflecting on the appropriation of regulation in online discussion forums  


Alexandre Mallard (Mines ParisTech, Université PSL)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines discussions in online forums on the appropriation of the French thermal regulation issued in 2012. Using data from different platforms, it studies the processes of problematization, learning and politicization involved in the regulatory transition to zero carbon building

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the way in which online discussion forums have contributed to the appropriation of the thermal regulation issued in France in 2012 (RT 2012). In the early 2010s, this regulation was considered a major contribution to the development of sustainable construction, and seen as a milestone in the transition towards the emergence of zero carbon buildings. However, its implementation was quite controversial and triggered debates among professionals and consumers, in the media and on the Internet. In this paper, we will focus on the case of online forums and consider three complementary dimensions featuring the appropriation processes associated with such controversial debates: problematization (how is the regulation related with concrete economic activities, technical devices and construction practices ?), learning (how does new knowledge emerge concerning the regulatory device ?) and politicization (what specific conceptions of public policies or modalities of market organization for sustainable construction do the debates involve). The paper is based on an analysis of online discussions on different kinds of platforms: online forums provided by consumer organizations, by home building DIY groups and by companies commercializing services in the construction sector. It offers a reflection at the crossroads of STS, economic sociology and the sociology of online participation on the role of different actors (public actors, small businesses, consumers, consultants, etc) in the concrete and effective implementation of regulations. As a whole, it aims to contribute to a better understanding of the regulation-based logics supporting the mainstreaming of zero carbon building in France.

Panel C19
Mainstreaming zero carbon buildings in Europe?