Tyrannies of thrift: Governmentality and older, low-income people's energy efficiency narratives in the Illawarra, Australia

Gordon Waitt*, Kate Roggeveen, Ross Gordon, Katherine Butler, Paul Cooper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Social scientists are arguing that energy policies should pay more attention to everyday life to address energy efficiency. Scholars are now positing that energy policy needs to move beyond essentialised understandings of people positioned as the problem and seek to involve household members as part of the solution. Joining this conversation, we explore the energy narratives of low-income people aged 60 years and over, living in private sector housing. Participants shared their energy efficiency stories during focus groups conducted in the Illawarra, Australia. The paper explores how Foucault's concept of governmentality may help inform energy efficiency programs by paying close attention to the way in which individual energy choices made under certain circumstances create who an individual becomes. Learning from participants, our governmentality analysis revealed the tyrannies of thrifty domestic energy conduct. We illustrate our argument drawing on the examples of practices relating to clothing and lighting. We outline how governmentality analysis can be used by researchers, policy makers and practitioners to assist people to safely negotiate energy efficiency in their domestic lives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy Policy
Volume90
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

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