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  • 2020NewmarchPhD

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Publics, complexity and social futures: blackouts, infrastructuring and maintenance

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2020
Number of pages269
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In order to create futures that are resilient and allow for the incorporation of a ‘bottom-up’ perspective, transition is dependent on citizen engagement. This thesis presents a study of this engagement during moments of disruption, past and future electrical blackouts. Today, citizens are designing and self-organising community resilience and emergency ‘services’, partly out of necessity in austerity economies and partly due to a new sense of emerging sociability and solidarity. This thesis explores how publics engage with the future, deal with complexity and use modes of infrastructuring to maintain and create practices and action.
This thesis provides novel methodological tools for the study of futures and public engagement in our increasingly risky societies. A conceptual and methodological framework developed from empirical material; case studies of electrical blackouts in 1974 and 2015, alongside a co-creation workshop, pioneers a novel combination of disciplinary perspectives and insights. This methodological mix of orchestrating collaboration with diverse stakeholders and public engagement in research allows for new modes of futures literacy, not only for engaging with the challenges and opportunities of transition to low carbon energy systems but also how to approach other complex and potentially disruptive moments in the future. Bringing together multiple perspectives and timescales in the same thesis for thinking about Social Futures allows a way of engaging with post-disciplinary future forming research and begin to develop a futures toolkit .