Cultural analysis can give great insights on intractable energy problems, but how can it be used as an analytical tool by anyone in the social sciences?
DEI Seminar Series Logo Easter 2023
Professor Janet Stephenson, University of Otago, New Zealand
In person seminar with lunch provided (registration essential for catering purposes)
We can probably all agree that cultures exist and that they influence sustainability outcomes. But ‘culture’ has many interpretations and it is often couched in mystifying academic language, both of which hamper its use in sustainability research. Cultural analysis can give great insights on intractable energy problems, but how can it be used as an analytical tool by anyone in the social sciences? And is culture relevant to work in the natural sciences?
Janet Stephenson introduces the cultures framework, a well-tested analytical framing that is designed to demystify culture and to provide a structure for analysing culture at any scale and in any context. Using examples of its application to energy questions around the world, Stephenson illustrates how culture can operate to resist change, as well as the role of culture in rapid transitions to more sustainable outcomes. She discusses the role of culture in research endeavours, and the use of the cultures framework as an integrating frame for interdisciplinary research.
Janet Stephenson is a research professor at the Centre for Sustainability, an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Otago, New Zealand. A social scientist, she is interested in the challenges of transitioning to a sustainable future and the influence of culture in seemingly intractable problems. Much of her research in recent years has focused on energy and transport issues as well as the challenges of climate change adaptation for place-based communities. Her recent book Culture and Sustainability draws on one-and-a-half decades of research to offer theoretical and analytical insights into the role of culture in sustainability transitions.