How to change attitudes and behaviours in the context of energy
It is commonly assumed that attitudes and behaviours need to be modified to secure a sustainable energy future. This paper examines insights from the social sciences in this extensive field. Alongside instruments such as regulation and economic measures, government campaigns have sought to 'educate' the public. However, such 'information deficit' models have been criticised on theoretical and pragmatic grounds. In the area of energy consumption, there is a need to take account of the physical, social, cultural and institutional contexts that shape and constrain people's choices, and for a richer understanding of opposition to energy facility siting, which has often been (inadequately) characterised as 'NIMBYism'. Recent work also points to the need for more deliberation and better communication between decision-makers, technical experts, other stakeholders and the public. Predicting future developments in the field is challenging but attention is likely to focus on aspects of policy learning, a more critical examination of the 'deliberative turn', and the need for a systemic approach to complex socio-economic and socio-technical systems. The consistency of government objectives across all policy spheres is likely to provide an important avenue for future research.
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