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Putting Practice Theory into Practice:Drought, Climate Change, and the Uncertainty of Water Demand
Dr Alison Browne
Lancaster Environment Centre
Calling all Translators...
Successful policy = Social science as ‘active mediator’ and ‘translator’
Is translation enough?
Is business and industry involvement merely a ‘fourth’ discourse?
Is there room to unveil normative elements of discourses?
Argue the need for change?
Introducing a new ‘discourse’ into the debate – that of ‘practice theory’
Identifying need for resetting policy and scientific agenda
in current agendas
Identifying current research at LEC chiefly the Adaptation and Resilience in a Changing Climate project (ARCC-Water)
(SE UK) sensitive
uncertainty and sensitivity of water using practices
and other social, technical and infrastructural changes
Social Science Impacts:
a (sociologically informed
) estimate of
’ of the
assumptions of the physical
science agenda within this project and the water industry.
The Problem of Estimating Demand
which focus on average calculations of demand actually fail to reflect the different services that water
as well as the distinctive characteristics of the different practices (gardening, laundering, bathing etc), in and as part of which water is consumed in daily life.
The Disconnect between Supply and Demand
which focus on simply interacting with the public (to reconsider their water use, to reconsider their use of water efficient devices etc) simplifies the complex relationships between the development of supply and infrastructural options (including technological change) and the everyday practices that characterise water demand.
different types of characteristics
emissions of greenhouse gases;
burdening the most vulnerable;
high opportunity costs
incentives to adapt;
increasing path dependencies.
Discourse Coalitions, Saturation and Institutionalisation
Discourse Coalitions in the Economic, Psychological and Engineering Agendas
signify the importance of intervention in terms of supply, provision of water technologies and behavioural change as immediately related to the valued concept of ‘water’.
Maladaptive Discourse Coalitions
Are these discourse coalitions actually maladaptive?
Do they reduce
the ‘interventions’ that are legitimised as adaptive within the space of water resource management?
Legitimising large scale infrastructural change (desalination, recycled
choice based consumption (water efficient technologies)
efficacy of ‘bringing back the flannel’
changing cultural understandings of what it means to be
clean, value of gardens, value of water using services?
Calling all Agitators... Practicing Practice Theory
Practice based discourses open up other alternatives for
understanding water management
For conceptualising demand
For considering a wider understanding of the concept of ‘intervention’
For reshaping dominant discourses
For providing new ways into interpretive governance regimes that challenge agendas and discourse coalitions
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