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The struggle to afford adequate energy: different ways of knowing fuel poverty

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date13/06/2016
Number of pages183
Awarding Institution
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis examines the co-existence of three ways of knowing fuel poverty – statistical, procedural and experiential – how they interrelate and interact and the implications that follow for the opportunities and challenges of tackling what has proved a persistent inequality and injustice in UK society. There has been significant policy attention and practical action taken over the last two decades which has involved the development of definitions, categories, processes and procedures through which action can be directed and enacted. All of this has been an attempt to know and act upon the struggles that are experienced by ‘fuel poor’ households. The focus of this thesis will be on different ways in which the phenomenon of fuel poverty can be, and is being, known – through the immediate everyday experiences of households, through the procedures developed and followed by local organisations working to provide help to those ‘in need’ and through the statistical definition and modelling that provides the foundation of government policy. These three ways of knowing are investigated through a research design taking a qualitative approach involving interviews with older householders, ethnographic-style observations with three local organisations in England during the winter of 2012 – 2013, and analysis of policy and related documents on statistical modelling. The thesis found that the statistical and experiential ways of knowing are characterised and understood by fundamentally different forms of knowledge and processes of knowledge production, with the procedural way of knowing needing to directly interact with both the statistical and experiential understandings of fuel poverty. Flows of resources and knowledge show how three different ways of knowing fuel poverty interrelate and interact through policy and action on the ground. These findings have implications for future action against fuel poverty, especially where partnership working and direct interaction with households is concerned.