Hidden secrets from competing influences

Hidden secrets from competing influences


Lucy Allinson

Organisation of Presenter:

Independant practitioner, Australia


This field research explores the role of social influence in initiating and sustaining household energy practices for an aged, low income demographic.
Understanding social influence includes identifying who this demographic consults for advice and feedback on household energy actions. The research explore the power of that feedback and the consequent challenge of ‘starting the conversation’ on household energy.
The relationship between social influence and other interactive and competing influences is presented using a model of framed using Social Practice Theory. Theorists have deconstructed social practices into three constituent elements:
  • Materials and infrastructure,
  • Competence including skills, knowledge, beliefs and attitudes
  • Social influence
Selected stories from the Masters research are used to demonstrate key findings about social and competing influences on household energy-based practices:
  • Complex decisions- multiple influences suggest householders are not so irrational
  • Hot or cold – negotiating comfort and financial influences
  • Hidden frugality – competing influences of finance and social etiquette
  • Done for love – emotional ties where social influence was dominant
The research design included data sources from the Energy Saver Study: semi-structured qualitative, interviews and a technique called Most Significant Change, completed by the Masters researcher. The ‘Most Significant Change’ (Davies 2005) is a community–based evaluation technique which provides the householders’ perspectives. The householder stories of significant change and their associated key influences, framed under ‘Social Practice Theory’ are evaluated for influence patterns.
The presentation is formatted as follows:
  • Is there enough emphasis on social influence – key findings on social influence and the impact in initiating and sustaining household energy-based practices?
  • A useful ‘model of influences’ framed on social practices theory -demonstrates the full range of influences and how they interact with and against each other.
  • Householder stories – viewing influence patterns in real-life and how the Most Significant Change technique provides a new perspective.