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Users, Consumers and Social Frameworks

The Users, Consumers, and Social Frameworks theme within University of Cambridge's energy initiative includes research into how energy use is affected by individual choices, culture and social networks.  Research is centred in the Departments of Social Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, Archaeology, Land Economy, Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Law and Judge Business School.

  • The application of the social sciences to technology use, including the Flagship Retrofit project, which is trialling ways in which public housing stock in the UK can be modified in ways that reduce energy usage through a combination of design interventions and behaviour change.
  • Research into environmental change from an anthropological standpoint: research on human-induced environmental transformations, resource exploitation and energy systems, vulnerability to climate change impacts, environmental activism and denial, and questions of lifestyle and sustainability.
  • Climate Histories: Communicating Cultural Knowledge of Environmental Change. This Network speaks to the theme of Histories of Environmental Change by asking how people around the world perceive, narrate, and frame changes in their environment and climate.
  • Human landscapes: the relations, both short- and long-term, between people and environment in the past.
  • Public communication, perceptions, and opposition to energy technologies and social acceptance of new technologies, including carbon capture and storage and nuclear power.
  • Behavioural economics, including investigations into energy consumption and social learning in financial decision making in the energy markets.

Please visit individual faculty profiles to learn more about their research in the Users, Consumers and Social Frameworks theme.


People specializing in this area

Principal Investigators

Dr Alan Blackwell

Social contexts and human factors in the deployment of digital technologies.

Dr Barbara Bodenhorn

‘Fourth World’ politics (environmental and other)

Dr. Jonathan Chaplin

Consumerism, behavioural change and energy-use; societal impact of religious communities.

Professor Michael Pollitt

Economics of energy demand; pre-payment and smart meter data analysis of consumer behaviour

Professor Jaideep Prabhu

I'm interested in how emerging economies like India provide affordable and sustainable energy to the poor who are currently off the electricity grid.

I'm interested in the business models firms use to offer these solutions and the impact of these offerings on the lives of the consumers in these markets.

Dr. David Michael Reiner
  • Social and political acceptability of carbon capture and storage technologies
  • International environmental negotiations
  • Public perceptions of energy technologies
  • Communicating science and technology
Dr. Liz Watson
  • Identities, landscapes and livelihoods

Visiting Researchers

Prof. Marga Jann

As I work 'in the field' across the globe exploring and introducing alternative energy for small island tropical states and large-scale sustainable post-disaster reconstruction, social and cultural frameworks and user-friendliness are critical concerns.