Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
RN05_01b: Prosumption
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Stefan Wahlen, Wageningen University
Location: BS.G.35
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Ground Floor Oxford Road

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'Prosumption' At Night: Are ’Prosumers’ More Likely To Time-shift Everyday Practices To Reduce Peak Electricity Demand?

Anders Rhiger Hansen, Mette Hove Jacobsen

Aalborg University, Denmark

Engaging and activating energy consumers is seen as important mechanisms to reduce peak demands in the energy system. Transforming consumers into prosumers, which refers to consumers producing their own energy by installing micro-generations technologies, is considered a useful approach to achieving this. However, to what extent (if at all) does being a ‘prosumer’ make households more likely to time-shift their everyday practices to hours with lower peak electricity demands?

In this study, we investigate this by comparing electricity consumption patterns of households with solar panels systems to a comparison group of households that have not installed solar panels. Using cluster analysis on hourly electricity consumption data, we are able to identify different electricity- and load profiles. By focusing on hours when the sun is not shining, for example at night during summer and in the afternoon, night and morning during winter, we are able to investigate whether prosumers also act differently than other households when they are not directly ’prosuming’, but still are ‘prosumers’.

By combining the data with administrative data, we are able to compare households with and without solar panels by using matching. Moreover, the administrative data enable analysis of social differences within the groups of prosumers and non-prosumers.

These results become important with a growing focus on adjusting energy consumption to fluctuating patterns of production, which becomes a fact in future energy systems that are intended to rely on fluctuating renewable energy production such as wind and solar photovoltaic.

Employee Branding as ‘Class’ Consumption: Towards a Reframing of Employee Agency from ‘Pro-sumption’ to ‘Refor-sumption’

Ayman Mohamed Ragaa El-Amir

Trent University, Canada

In the context of employee branding, this paper problematizes the role of employees as consuming agents in their firms’ strategic orientation to creating brand value. The paper argues that this orientation has failed to account for the active process of collective employee agency in creating their own sociocultural values from employment. Taking the practice-turn in consumption studies, this study draws upon the multifaceted ontological frameworks of ‘Class’ relations to critically examine the role of collective agency in employee branding. The employee branding literature is seen to offer agency a limited role since the structural theories of ‘Class’ relations underpin its managerial practices and consequently develop a hegemonic process of production-stimulating consumption--‘Pro-sumption’. Using a praxis-based analytic framework of socio-historical ‘Class’ relations, an ethnographic study contextualizes Egyptian employees’ practices working for a global supermarket brand within the broader socio-historical praxis of the Egyptian working-class. While handling their daily duties for a global brand, Egyptian employees’ practices were found rekindling a sociocultural tradition of working-class identity reformation in national-colonial Egypt. Broadening the analytical scope of agents’ practices from intra-organizational to extra-organizational, the study reframes employee branding as a sociocultural process of reform-stimulating consumption-- ‘Refor-sumption’: a process whereby employees’ agency to reform their own ‘Class’ norms creates the value of consuming/working for a brand. The paper concludes with a broader discussion on the potential of ‘Refor-sumption’ in consumer branding where ‘Pro-sumption’ is becoming the norm.

Prosuming Lifestyles: Young People's Prosumption as a Means of Establishing and Evaluating Lifestyles.

Konstantinos Theodoridis

Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom

The relationship between production and consumption has been the centre of attention in sociological studies. The expansion of new digital technologies and social media has rendered the notion of prοsumption (Ritzer and Jurgenson, 2010) even more crucial and it has attracted an increasing interest from scholars. This paper introduces the concept of prosumer lifestyles and the transformation that has occurred in a complex world where young people self-work daily in the digital sphere. Young people use prosumption as a means of establishing, evaluating and promoting lifestyles in an age of precarity. In particular, this study investigates how young people cope with insecurities and seek affirmation from their peers.

It cannot be denied that lifestyles lie at the heart of young people’s experiences and in that sense, they affect the construction of young people’s identities. Young people are dealing with a number of social and economic challenges as part of their everyday lives. I argue that while social media expansion has given even more choices to young people, it constrains youth to the orthodoxy of prosumption.

The research examines based on focus groups and photo-elicitation interviews of a qualitative research project in which I assess the changing nature of young people’s consumption in Manchester and Athens. I consider whether prosumer lifestyles can play the role of the primary means by which young people’s transitions can be better understood in a world which is characterized by a lack of stability.

Smart Home Technologies Enabling Energy Flexibility: The Importance Of Embodied Know-how

Simon Peter Aslak Kondrup Larsen

Aalborg University, Denmark

The influx of renewable energy sources (RES) in the energy system entails that energy consumption must be increasingly flexible in order to compensate for the intermittent nature of RES. Throughout recent years policy initiatives has tried to shape a flexible energy demand, utilizing the smart grid and employing digital demand-side-management tools. Smart home technology for enabling energy flexibility is an example of such. These technologies has though been criticized for their embedment in a techno-economic paradigm, and have not yet proved widely successful in enabling energy flexibility, resulting in a so-called performance gap. This has called for an understanding of user practices and their engagement with smart home technologies. Theories of practice has proved useful in analyzing energy consumption as intertwined in everyday practices, thus being in focus. This article uncovers how occupants in 20 Danish households engage with smart home technology and examines how practices of space-heating are intertwined in everyday life. Conducting qualitative interview and ‘show and tell’ tours of the home, it is highlighted how practices of heating are intertwined with embodied technological know-how and that user adaption AND adoption of smart home technology is dependent on previous engagement with technology and competences for doing such. The results highlight the importance of understanding differences in embodied know-how and taking this into account when designing and integrating smart home technologies for enabling energy flexibility. The results contribute to the emerging research on the gap between embedded understanding of smart home technologies and embodied everyday practices of mundane consumption.