Rachel Preston

PhD student

Research Interests

I am a first year PhD student studying within the sociology department at Lancaster University, supervised by Professor Elizabeth Shove, co-director of the DEMAND Centre and Lecturer in Sociology. I began my PhD in February after completing an ESRC recognised Masters in Sociological Research at Lancaster University; prior to that I had received a First Class BSc Economics degree, again at Lancaster. I was awarded ESRC NWDTC 1+3 (Masters + PhD) funding in Sociology in April 2012, and am on the ESRC Science, Technology, Innovation and Social Practice Pathway. As a doctoral researcher, I am interested in relating social theories of practice (Bourdieu, Giddens, Schatski, etc.), with the everyday, “ordinary”, and “hidden” forms of consumption (Gronow and Warde, 2001; Shove and Chappells, 2001), and with theorising upon what ‘sustainable consumption’ and ‘sustainable lifestyles’ may mean in terms of future practices, in light of present ones. I am also interested in socio-cultural histories of conventional domestic technologies and appliances, including but not limited to the fridge, freezer, shower, and washing machine, as well as how these technologies are inextricably bound-up with practices and present ways of knowing, doing, and being. In addition, I am interested in constructing socio-cultural histories of ‘the home’ more generally, particularly how infrastructures and technologies together constitute certain patterns of practices and demand for utilities such as energy and water within the home, and how we might begin thinking about ‘unlocking’ these patterns of practices.

Overall I am interested in motivating wider discussions concerning the nuanced qualities of energy demand itself: how energy is used, what energy is for, and how energy demands arise, change, and evolve.