Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Shove nominated for an Honorary Doctorate

Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Shove nominated for an Honorary Doctorate

Professor Elizabeth Shove has been central in the development of practice theory based on the aim of reshaping peoples’ everyday practices towards sustainable ways of living. Shove will be awarded the honorary doctorate at a ceremony at Aalborg University on April 8, 2022.

Last modified: 15.03.2022

Elizabeth Shove, who is a Distinguished Professor at Department of Sociology at Lancaster University, is a central figure in developing social practice theory with the purpose to enhance sustainability, for example in the sociology of energy and mobility, infrastructures and in technologies, and everyday life.

As honorary doctor Elizabeth Shove will be affiliated with Mattering: Centre for Discourse & Practice at the Department of Communication and Psychology. Head of Mattering, Professor Pirkko Raudaskoski, is looking forward to welcoming the honorary doctor at the department. She says:

- A change in present energy consumption is needed. To make that as democratic a process as possible, collaboration is the key and researchers must involve all stakeholders, from citizens to policy makers, in the shaping of a sustainable future. This is why at the university level we need humanities and social sciences to collaborate with technical and engineering sciences to achieve best solutions for the environment that sustains all life on earth. We welcome therefore Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Shove’s valuable knowledge to aid us in this important task.

Research anchored in everyday social practices

Elizabeth Shove is an excellent example of a collaborative and inter-disciplinary researcher. Her research of the highest scholarly standards is anchored in everyday social practices, which means that she also is widely appreciated as a developer of design methods.

The professor has (co-)authored numerous publications on the topic of sustainability and has been awarded research funding, among others, from EU, the European Social Fund, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

At Lancaster, Shove has been co-director of the Practice Theory at Lancaster research initiative and the principal investigator of the research centre DEMAND (Dynamics of energy, mobility and demand).

Attitude change is not enough for changing practices towards sustainability

Professor Shove has taken practice theory forward especially in relation to the urgent need of reshaping the everyday practices of people towards sustainable ways of living.

Shove has shown how attitude change is not enough for changing practices. She has been an innovative researcher who has explored the material and social nature of practices, the connections between them, and how best to intervene in material and social infrastructures. Pirkko Raudaskoski explains:

- The task is undertaken through local social practices of policy making that result in frameworks for citizens and companies to go about their everyday life practices. Communication is central in these practices at many levels, from being part of the local accomplishment of action that connect to larger level discourses and practices, be they politically agreed policies or culturally acceptable ways of participating in the world. Therefore, it is important to understand how policy making in the energy and transport sector works in practice, and also to identify possibilities for alternative ways of forming material and organizational infrastructures.

Methods for intervention in energy demand

Elizabeth Shove has tackled how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by focussing on the dense connections between things and practices on one hand and the rapidly increasing energy demand on the other.

She has developed the concept of demand towards a more practice-oriented definition: Demand is created, it is materially embedded and temporally unfolding and, further, modified through policies and governance. Thus, Professor Shove has paved the way for more efficient methods for intervening in and reducing energy demand.


Distinguished Professor Elizbeth Shove visits AAU in connection with her promotion as honorary doctor

Thursday, 7th of April, 10:15-11:00, Rendsburggade 14, 3.107 Lecture: Connecting practices: engaging with large topics in society and social theory

Friday, 8th of April, 9:00-12:00, Rendsburggade 14, 5.125/27 Workshop: Energy demand, flexibility and social practice