Book Review: Guy, Shove (2007)

January 31, 2008

Guy, S. and Shove, E. (2007). The Sociology of Energy, Buildings and the Environment: Constructing Knowledge, Designing Practice. Taylor & Francis Ltd.

Until recently, energy consumption and conservation have rarely featured as subjects of sociological analysis. This book develops a sociology of energy and energy efficiency in the built environment. The authors make a critical analysis of the production and use of technical knowledge and energy expertise through three key case studies: (1) a history of the insulation industry, illustrating the erratic character of technological innovation, (2) a review of housing development, challenging conventional notions of the factors behind standards of energy efficiency and (3) an analysis of new office building. Drawing on extensive empirical research, the book develops a sociological analysis of the science and technology of sustainability and energy efficiency.

Even though it came out some years ago, this book has not lost its topicality. The book challenges some of the conventional assumptions of energy policy makers, outlines a new role for social research, and points out key theoretical resources for analyzing energy consumption from a sociological perspective.