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Are we sitting comfortably? Domestic imaginaries, laptop practices, and energy use

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  • Justin Spinney
  • Nicola Green
  • Kate Burningham
  • Geoff Cooper
  • David Uzzell

Abstract

The considerable literature on domestic energy consumption practices has tended to focus on either the (re)production and contestation of normative imaginaries, or the links between escalating standards and energy use. Far less has been written which links these related areas together. Accordingly, this paper is positioned at the intersection of debates on domestic consumption, energy use, and home cultures. Through a qualitative study of laptop use in the home, we illustrate how energy-intensive practices, such as ‘always-on-ness’, and changing computer ecologies and infrastructures, are intimately bound up with the reproduction of particular domestic imaginaries of family and home. A key insight in this paper is that a purely physiological conception of comfort would fail to explain fully why practices such as always-on-ness emerge, and thus we theorise comfort as an accomplishment comprised of inseparable temporal, bodily, spatial, and material elements. Ultimately, we argue here that comfort needs to be understood as a multivalent imaginary that is itself bound up in broader idealised notions of family and home in order to comprehend shifting practices, computing ecologies, and rising energy consumption. Keywords: social practice, home, ICT, energy, consumption

Suggested Citation

  • Justin Spinney & Nicola Green & Kate Burningham & Geoff Cooper & David Uzzell, 2012. "Are we sitting comfortably? Domestic imaginaries, laptop practices, and energy use," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 44(11), pages 2629-2645, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:11:p:2629-2645
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    Cited by:

    1. Bickerstaff, Karen & Devine-Wright, Patrick & Butler, Catherine, 2015. "Living with low carbon technologies: An agenda for sharing and comparing qualitative energy research," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 241-249.

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