The micro-politics of energy efficiency : an investigation of 'eco-social interventions' in western Switzerland

Bertho, Béatrice (Haute école de travail social et de la santé Lausanne (HETSL | HES-SO)) ; Sahakian, Marlyne (University of Geneva) ; Naef, Patrick (University of Geneva)

Households have a role to play in the so-called ‘energy turn’ in Switzerland, a policy framework that calls for more efficient energy usage. Against this backdrop, this article critically analyses the mechanisms and running of a programme aimed at improving energy usage among low-income households in western Switzerland, bringing together both environmental and social objectives or what was termed an ‘eco-social intervention’. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and informed by a Foucauldian governmentality approach, the power dynamics of this programme are exposed, and its effect on the lived experience and subjectification of both household members and energy ambassadors are discussed. We argue that while presenting the appearance of technical rationality and political neutrality, this type of programme seeks to govern behaviours and leaves the ultimate responsibility for the protection of the environment on individuals, rather than promoting more collective and inclusive actions. Furthermore, we unravel how this programme participates in the reproduction of social differentiation by aiming at a particular social group, low-income households living in subsidised housing. We conclude with a discussion on how initiatives aimed at households could engage with the more complex arrangements of everyday life, rather than solely individual eco-gestures, while accounting for power dynamics.


Keywords:
Article Type:
scientifique
Faculty:
Travail social
Branch:
Travail social
School:
HETSL
Institute:
LaReSS - Laboratoire de Recherche Santé - Social, HETSL
Subject(s):
Travail social
Date:
2020-05
Pagination:
20 p.
Published in:
Critical social policy
Numeration (vol. no.):
2020, mis en ligne le 11 mai 2020, 20 p.
DOI:
ISSN:
1461-703X
Appears in Collection:

Note: The status of this file is: restricted


 Record created 2020-06-02, last modified 2020-10-27

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