Energy poverty and social relations: a capabilities approach

MIDDLEMISS, Lucie, AMBROSIO ALBALA, Pepa, EMMEL, Nick, GILLARD, Ross, GILBERTSON, Janet, HARGREAVES, Tom, MULLEN, Caroline, TONY, Ryan, SNELL, Carolyn and TOD, Angela (2019). Energy poverty and social relations: a capabilities approach. Energy research & social science, 55, 227-235.

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Energy poverty is widely understood to be a complex and multi-faceted problem, with a range of drivers. In thispaper we draw on secondary qualitative data on energy poverty from the UK, as well as conceptual thinkinginformed by the capabilities approach, to explore a previously understudied facet of energy poverty: socialrelations. We focus particularly on how relationships with family, friends, agencies and distant others impact onpeople’s ability to cope with energy poverty. We find that the connection between social relations and energypoverty is recursive: good social relations can both enable access to energy services, and be a product of suchaccess. This connection is also shaped by structural factors, such as access to a range of resources, membership ofparticular collectivities, the need to perform social roles, and the common reasons used to explain poverty andenergy use. Our work suggests that attempts to address energy poverty need to take into account the quality ofpeople’s social relations, as well as the potential impact of policy and practice on social relations, given thatpeople rely on their friends and families for information support and advice, on key agency workers for access toresources, and are also constrained by discourses of poverty.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
Page Range: 227-235
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 15 May 2019 15:28
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 05:07

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