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Energy crises and social change


   School of Social Sciences

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  Dr Jenni Cauvain, Dr Claire Markham, Dr M Grigolo  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Society is facing an energy crisis that has both immediate and long term consequences for social life. This crisis results not only from the worsening energy security and associated global shocks to wholesale energy prices experienced in 2022, but also from the long-standing need to decarbonise energy sources on the one hand, and the lack of progress in creating sustainable and just energy transitions on the other. Existing research in the global context points to many immediate and detrimental effects of energy vulnerability and fuel poverty, highlighting the links between energy practices, and environmental and social harms. Such impacts are experienced differently depending on geographic, socio-economic, personal-intersectional and environmental contexts, but it is clear that energy practices shape social life in rural and urban contexts, in developing and post-industrial societies alike.  

What is less well understood are the ways in which energy crises affect societies longer term through a life-course approach. In line with the public health tradition, a life course approach considers the wider determinants of an individual’s life span and outcomes. Proposals aimed at this project should address questions such as what life decisions does the energy crisis and increased energy vulnerability influence, and in what way? Such life decisions could include decisions about education, employment/career, housing/living arrangements, family, internal migration or emigration. This proposed project breaks new ground in energy vulnerability and fuel poverty research by considering the societal, longer term impacts of the existing, crisis-prone and fossil fuel-based energy paradigm to individual life courses. The project is open to the prospective candidate’s preference in terms of geographic context and specific approach taken to understanding how the energy crisis impacts on social life, but it will include qualitative and interpretivist methodologies focused on everyday life and lived experience.  

The proposed PhD project could incorporate perspectives from energy justice, human rights, urban/rural social geographies, ethnography, comparative public policy, or public health, for example. The project will be based in the Department of Social and Political Sciences, therefore a variety of social science backgrounds or environmental/sustainability studies background with demonstrable social science elements are considered suitable.  

Prospective candidates should contact Dr Jenni Cauvain [Email Address Removed] about any enquiries.  

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