Energy, Buildings and the Environment: A Sociology of Knowledge and Technology Transfer

March 20, 2001 - 12:00pm
Bldg. 90
Seminar Host/Point of Contact: 

Social scientists' contribution to the analysis of energy, buildings and the environment is frequently confined to the study of human behavior.  This talk, based on the recent book, "A Sociology of Energy, Buildings and the Environment: Constructing Knowledge, Designing Practice", by Simon Guy and Elizabeth Shove (2000), outlines a range of other more challenging roles.  Questions about the production and use of technical knowledge raise and engage with important issues for the sociology of science and technology, and for energy research and policy.   How are technical research agendas formed, how are priorities specified and defined, and how do the methods of energy-related building science influence the types of knowledge which are produced? These are issues of day-to-day importance for people involved in doing and managing energy research.  Such questions are also relevant for an understanding of technology transfer and the relationship between scientific knowledge and practice.  How do the diverse habits of house-builders and office developers relate to standardized technical knowledge?  By dipping into theories of knowledge and practice, this talk promises to put familiar concepts - like the idea that there are 'barriers' to change; or that decision-makers need more and better information - in a different light.  Taken together, these ideas suggest the value of reviewing and perhaps transforming the ways in which technical research agendas are framed and formed.

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