Rethinking Lifestyles in the Context of the Energy Transition

Special Report: Energy Uses in Homes: a Bottom-up Perspective on Energy Transition
By Bruno Maresca, Anne Dujin

This paper presents a theoretical and empirical overhaul of the notion of lifestyles, and uses it as a framework of analysis of the issues the energy transition project is facing. It is argued here that the notion of lifestyles is often reduced, particularly in the energy transition project, to a single dimension of user behaviour and energy consumption, and thus excludes the material and normative frameworks that guide individual and collective practices. It is proposed instead to understand lifestyles as a set of devices which are at once material (living form, networks, technical objects ...) and ideational (representations, values ...), upon which social organization lies (housing, mobility, food, education ...) and through which « normality » is implicitly defined in the sense of customary uses and practices within society. Taking into account this approach to lifestyles can enable us to explore with greater precision how the shift towards a new energy system can be achieved.

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