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Professor Elizabeth Shove


Elizabeth Shove

Bowland North



Tel: +44 1524 510013

Research overview

My recent research has been about how social practices change and about the implications of these dynamics for everyday life, energy demand and climate change. Previous work has explored aspects of consumption, design and material culture and changing conventions of comfort, cleanliness and convenience. I am interested in extending the range of social theory that is used in public policy. See my personal web page for links to publications and projects.

PhD supervision

Research students welcome on topics relating to social theories of practice;  infrastructures and institutions of everyday consumption, climate change and issues of energy and water demand; design, materiality,  technology studies and research policy.

Research Interests

See my personal web page for recent publications and details of past and present projects.

These include current work on Flexibility and as part of Practice Theory at Lancaster

I came to Lancaster in 1995 as deputy director of the Centre for the Study of Environmental Change and was director of the Centre for Science Studies for a couple of years before joining the Sociology Department in 2000. My current research interests have to do with the relation between consumption, everyday practice and ordinary technology. I am co-director of DEMAND, an EPSRC/ESRC funded research centre on the Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand.  DEMAND starts in May 2013 and runs for 5 years. 



Books - from 2013

Rinkinen, J., Shove, E. and Torriti, J. (Eds) (2019) Energy Fables: Challenging ideas in the energy sector.  London: Routledge.

Shove, E. and Trentmann, F. (Eds) (2018) Infrastructures in practice: the dynamics of demand in networked Societies.  London: Routledge.

Hui, A. Shove, E. and Schatzki, T. (Eds) (2016) The Nexus of Practices: Connections, constellations, practitioners, London: Routledge.

Shove, E. and Spurling, N. (Eds) (2013) Sustainable Practices: Social theory and climate change, London: Routledge.


Flexibility theme in the Centre for research into energy demand solutions (CREDS) 2018-2023 - with Peter Forman, Stanley Blue and Jacopo Torriti (Reading)

Research Councils UK, Electricity de France (R&D), International Energy Agency and Transport for London £7.1 million in total (£4.95 million from RCUK/EDF, £2.15 million contribution in kind/institutional support), for the DEMAND Research Centre  of which I am the PI.

Previous research includes:

Transitions in Practice - an  ESRC funded Climate Change Leadership Fellowship that ran from 2008-2012. Follow the link for more details, including the film of the extraordinary lecture on how the social sciences can help climate change policy.  The Dynamics of Social Practice (Sage 2012) was partly based on this work. 

Sustainable Practices Research group - I am on the management team of the SPRG (2010-2013), and involved with three projects in the group: keeping cool,interaction and engagement, and theoretical development and integration.

The Design of Everyday Life (Berg2007) is based on 'Designing and Consuming: objects, practices and processes'. This project, undertaken with Matt Watson at Durham University and Jack Ingram at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, exploits the potential for theoretical development at the interface of science and technology studies, design and the sociology of consumption. This projectwas funded by the ESRC's Cultures of Consumption programme.

The choreography of everyday life - a collaborative project with Mika Pantzar at the National Consumer Research Centre, Helsinki, Finland. We have written about a range of different topics - Nordic Walking, Kitchen rationalisation, Floorball, Plastic, Heart Rate Meters and more. The link will take you to a series of web pages outlining some of our ideas, many of which feature in the Dynamics of Social Practice (2012).

Interactive Agenda Setting in the Social Sciences: A programme of six research workshops on non-academic concerns and academic research agendas was funded by the ESRC. The web site includes background papers and reports on interactive agenda setting and: disciplines, centres, interdisciplinarity and research programmes.

Traces of Water, with Will Medd, was funded by the UK Water Industry Research Association. This project brings sociological ideas about practice and technology to bear on domestic water consumption.The web site includes details of a programme of research workshops.

Manufacturing Leisure (2005), an electronic book, edited with Mika Pantzar, which examines innovations in fun. Together, the chapters show how consumers and producers are continuously and actively involved in integrating, inventing and reproducing specific combinations of ideologies, materials and forms of competence of which leisure practices are formed.

Future Comforts, with Heather Chappells, examined future expectations of comfort and the indoor environment (funded by the ESRC's Environment and Behaviour Programme.). The future comforts web site includes a selection of papers and a bibliography of social scientific work on thermal comfort.

Sustainable Domestic Technologies with Alan Warde and Dale Southerton at Manchester University, is about the design and use of kitchens and bathrooms and is funded by the ESRC's Sustainable Technologies Programme.

Consumption, Everyday Life and Sustainability a five-year programme of workshops, exchanges and summer schools onconsumption, everyday life and sustainability" (funded by the European Science Foundation).

Current Teaching

I sometimes teach "Research Projects in Practice", an MA Module in which students undertake a small-scale research project from start to finish during the course of the term. This is also available through the Faculty Research Training Programme.

I often run a programme of "Craft Skills" workshops open to Masters and PhD students.

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