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Practice makes perfect?: Sustainable practices with ICT and daily travel
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Environmental Strategies Research (fms). KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Centres, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Centres, Centre for Sustainable Communications, CESC.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1688-7905
2015 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The thesis shows how practice theory can be applied in different ways when exploring how daily life can be supported to become more environmentally sustainable. Ultimately the thesis aims to contribute to new knowledge on how to design policies and interventions that aim at facilitating environmentally sustainable practices.  This thesis argues that practice theory is useful in the field of sustainability research since it offers as point of departure a perspective on human everyday life which decentres focus from individual behaviour and instead looks at how social practices are constructed by integrating and combining material, bodily and mental elements.

The thesis discusses the following questions: i) How can the role of ICT in everyday life be conceptualized from a practice perspective?, ii) How can practice theory be used in order to describe and assess second order environmental effects? and iii) What are the key considerations from a practice perspective when designing social/physical interventions for sustainable mobility?

The papers in this thesis all use practice theory as point of departure but with different outcomes. Practice theory is thus used conceptually, methodologically and analytically. The main conclusions of the thesis are:  Changes in practices due to ICT usage will inevitably have environmental impacts, both negative and positive, and for policy-makers it is imperative to take this into consideration when planning for the future and actively support and facilitate sustainable social practices. Looking at changes in practices due to new ICT usage can be one way to include second order effects in environmental assessments, in this way contributing to a discussion of potential environmental impacts from implementing a new product, application or service.

Interventions, such as a cargo bike pool or restrictive work travel policies, have the potential to change existing practices. However, the potential of these changes, depend on a variety of different factors which are more or less difficult to influence for the individual practitioner such as work location, time schedules, availability of transportation means and modes. Further, it is difficult to foresee exactly how such changes will look and if they sustain in the long run. Finally, it is not necessarily so that an intervention will have the desired outcome that was intended, the outcome might be something else, consequently this means that interventions need to be analysed and assessed from other perspectives, one being a practice perspective.

Abstract [sv]

Denna avhandling visar hur praktikteori (practice theory) kan tillämpas på olika sätt när man ska utforska hur det dagliga livet kan bli mer miljömässigt hållbart. Ytterst syftar avhandlingen till att bidra till ny kunskap om hur man kan utforma strategier och åtgärder som syftar till att stödja miljömässigt hållbara praktiker. Denna avhandling hävdar att praktikteori är användbart inom hållbarhetsforskning eftersom den utgår från de vardagliga praktikerna. Detta ger ett perspektiv på människors vardagsliv som lyfter fokus upp från individens beteende och istället undersöker hur praktiker skapas och omskapas genom de element (material, färdigheter och symbolisk innebörd) som utgör en social praktik.

Avhandlingen behandlar följande frågor: i) Hur kan IKT: s roll i det dagliga livet begreppsliggöras?, ii) Hur kan praktikteori användas för att beskriva och andra ordningens miljöeffekter i miljöbedömningar? och iii) Vilka är de viktigaste överväganden utifrån ett praktikteoriperspektiv vid utformningen av sociala och/eller fysiska åtgärder för hållbar mobilitet?

Artiklarna i denna avhandling utgår från praktikteori, men det teoretiska ramverket används på ett konceptuellt, metodologiskt eller analytiskt vis i de olika artiklarna. De viktigaste slutsatserna i avhandlingen är: Förändringar i till följd av IKT-användning kommer oundvikligen ha miljöpåverkan som kan vara både negativ och positiv.  För beslutsfattare är det viktigt att ta hänsyn till detta när man planerar för framtiden och aktivt stödja och underlätta för hållbara sociala praktiker. Miljöbedömningar behöver kunna hantera och inkludera så kallade effekter av andra ordningen för att kunna bedöma potentiell miljöpåverkan som en ny produkt, program eller en tjänst kan ha. Ett sätt att inkludera andra ordningens effekter i miljöbedömningar kan vara att titta på förändringar i vardagliga praktiker som uppstår vid användning av IKT.

Interventioner och andra typer av åtgärder har potential att förändra befintliga mobilitetspraktiker. Men dessa potentiella förändringar, beror på en rad olika faktorer som är mer eller mindre svårt att påverka för den enskilde utövaren så som arbetsplatsens lokalisering, scheman, tillgång till transportmedel och transportsätt. Vidare är det svårt att förutse exakt hur sådana förändringar kommer att se ut och om de håller i sig i det långa loppet. Slutligen är det inte nödvändigtvis så att en intervention eller annan åtgärd kommer att ha det önskade resultatet som avsågs, utan resultatet kan snarare vara något annat. Detta innebär att insatser och åtgärder måste analyseras och bedömas ur andra perspektiv, till exempel ett praktikteoretiskt perspektiv.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. , 36 p.
Series
TRITA-INFRA-FMS-LIC, 2015:02
Keyword [en]
Social practice theory, sustainable practices, ICT, mobility, second order effects, cargo bikes, mediated meetings
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Planning and Decision Analysis
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-175753ISBN: 978-91-7595-735-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-175753DiVA: diva2:862180
Presentation
2015-11-11, D2, Lindstedtsvägen 5, Stockholm, 14:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
VINNOVA
Note

QC 20151023

Available from: 2015-10-23 Created: 2015-10-20 Last updated: 2015-10-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. ICT practices in smart sustainable cities: In the intersection of technological solutions and practices of everyday life
Open this publication in new window or tab >>ICT practices in smart sustainable cities: In the intersection of technological solutions and practices of everyday life
2015 (English)In: Proceedings of EnviroInfo and ICT for Sustainability 2015: Building the knowledge base for environmental action and sustainability / [ed] Vivian Kvist Johannsen, Stefan Jensen, Volker Wohlgemuth, Chris Preist, Elina Eriksson, Copenhagen: Atlantis Press , 2015, 317-324 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

ICT, information and communications technology,has radically transformed our world and is now an inextricable partof what it means to live a normal life as a citizen, at least in highincomecountries. This has led to a situation where ICT has becomeso taken for granted that it has lost its visibility. While thisdevelopment to a large extent has been driven by businessopportunities, there is now also an increasing recognition of ICT as apossible solution to sustainability problems. There are however twomajor pitfalls of using ICT as a tool for sustainability that need to beaddressed for its potentials to be realized. The first pitfall isenvironmental impacts of ICT, as well as the risk of lock-in effectsand an increasing vulnerability. The second pitfall concerns theunderstanding of ICT as a neutral solution, rather than recognizingthat ICT, as all technology, carries implicit values. Taken together,these two pitfalls imply a need for replacing the atomized and technobiasedunderstandings of ICT with an approach that recognize thelarger socio-material, political and economic structure in which ICTis (thought to be) part. With the aim of contributing to such a shift,this paper proposes a practice-oriented perspective in order toexplore the potential of ICT to contribute to sustainability, using thesmart sustainable city discourse as our example. We define theconcept ICT practices and discuss it from an interdisciplinaryperspective and in relation to the sustainable smart city. We arguethat by using ICT practices as a conceptual starting-point foranalysis, both the technological and the socio-cultural components ofthe smart sustainable city discourse can become elicited, enabling amore explicit analysis of what assumptions this discourse rests on.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Copenhagen: Atlantis Press, 2015
Series
ACSR: Advances in Computer Science Research, ISSN 2352-538x ; 22
Keyword
Social Practice Theory, ICT practices, Sustainability, Sustainable Smart Cities, HCI, Sustainable practices
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-173604 (URN)10.2991/ict4s-env-15.2015.36 (DOI)000365044700036 ()978-94-62520-92-9 (ISBN)
Conference
EnviroInfo & ICT4S
Funder
VINNOVA
Note

QC 20150915

Available from: 2015-09-15 Created: 2015-09-15 Last updated: 2015-12-18Bibliographically approved
2. Including second order effects in environmental assessments of ICT
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Including second order effects in environmental assessments of ICT
2014 (English)In: Environmental Modelling & Software, ISSN 1364-8152, E-ISSN 1873-6726, Vol. 56, 105-115 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can have both negative and positive impacts on the environment. Immediate negative environmental impacts arise due to the production, use and disposal of ICT products, while positive effects can arise because ICT products and services replace other products. Other, more indirect consequences of introducing new technologies include e.g. that money saved by reducing costs due to ICT-induced energy efficiency, is being used in consumption of other goods and services that also need energy in their production. Such effects are examined within different disciplines under headings such as rebound effects, indirect effects, second order effects and ripple effects. This paper presents a review and discussion of different second order effects that can be linked to ICT usage in general, using e-commerce as an example. This is a first necessary step in developing methods which include second order effects when analysing the environmental impacts of ICT.

Keyword
ICT, Environment, Second order effects, Indirect effects, First order effects, Rebound effects, E-commerce
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-143642 (URN)10.1016/j.envsoft.2014.02.005 (DOI)000337555500011 ()2-s2.0-84901489244 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Vinnova
Note

QC 20140812

Available from: 2014-03-26 Created: 2014-03-26 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
3. Cargo Bike Pool: A way to facilitate a car-free life?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cargo Bike Pool: A way to facilitate a car-free life?
2014 (English)In: Resilience – the new research frontier. Proceedings of the 20th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference (ISDRC 2014) Trondheim 18-20 June 2014, Trondheim, 2014, 273-280 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In planning for sustainable cities, there is a need to take into consideration alternative transportation modes and facilitate the use of these, for the types of trips that people tend to use cars for. One way to mitigate car dependency in everyday life could be by using a cargo bike for these types of trips.The purpose of this paper is to map in what ways a specific trial of providing access to a cargo bike pool in a housing association affected both people’s travel habits and how they reimagined the types of trips that could be done at all or done in another way in order to find car-free travel and transportation modes. In this paper we focussed on the residents who actually used the cargo bikes.This qualitative study shows that although many of the residents did indeed lead car-free everyday lives, they got the opportunity to do other types of trips that they had not even thought about beforehand or deemed too difficult to do without a car. The cargo bike proved to fit into the portfolio of sustainable travel modes that facilitate everyday transports. The way that trips are imagined has also changed, that is what a cargo bike can be used to in relation to car, regular bike and public transportation.Having access to a cargo bike through a vehicle pool means that the possibilities to live a car-free everyday life are facilitated and in the long run a sustainable transportation pattern is being put in place.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trondheim: , 2014
Keyword
cargo bike pool, mobility solution, behaviour change, sustainable transportation
National Category
Sociology Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Social Anthropology
Research subject
Planning and Decision Analysis
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-172043 (URN)978-82-91917-34-4 (ISBN)
Conference
20th International Sustainable Development Research Conference Trondheim 18-20 June 2014
Funder
VINNOVA
Note

QC 20150817

Available from: 2015-08-11 Created: 2015-08-11 Last updated: 2015-10-23Bibliographically approved
4. Meetings, practice and beyond: Environmental sustainability in meeting practices at work
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Meetings, practice and beyond: Environmental sustainability in meeting practices at work
2013 (English)In: Nachhaltigkeit in der Wirtschaftskommunikation / [ed] Martin Nielsen, Iris Rittenhofer, Marianne Grove Ditlevsen, Sophie Esmann Andersen, Irene Pollach, Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden , 2013, 159-190 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The study shows how the employees at a large transnational telecom company understand and accommodate the implemented travel and meeting policies that regulate business communication. This involves looking at employee decisions on when, how and why to hold meetings. The subsequent understandings of meetings and their practice is formed through negotiation and the formation of a ‘social matrix of workplace communication (meetings)’(Bateson & Reusch 2009). This social matrix and its contexts are analysed from the perspective of environmental sustainability of office work practice. The basis for this is the recent implementation of company-wide restrictions on travel aiming to encourage the use of mediated meetings instead of travel for face-to-face meetings. Some issues that emerge are shared meanings of meetings, more specifically the perceived importance of the physical meeting in a workplace where telephone meetings were the norm. This shows that even if the technological possibilities for mediated meetings and by extension a more flexible work practice exist, they are not regarded as default but seen as complementary to conventional work practices. The need to find a balance in between mediated and physical meetings comes across as a recurring theme in both interviews and policy documents.  As a result the ongoing negotiation of which meetings are deemed necessary to be held in person and thereby requiring travel, is embedded within TeliaSonera employees' notions that face-to-face meetings are better and more efficient than mediated meetings. Subsequently the collective view that mediated meetings are not as successful as face-to-face meetings becomes a central to the character of workplace communication. This negotiation is carried out on an individual level as well as on a more organisational level. When carried out on an organisational level these negotiations occur in policy documents which can sometimes contradict employee perspectives and are equally subject to contextual factors (cf. Kogg 2002). Other related issues present in the empirical data are the blurring of the divide between work and home in relation to the changes in work practices and information and communication technology (ICT).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 2013
Series
Europäische Kulturen in der Wirtschaftskommunikation, 24
Keyword
environmental sustainability, ICT, (social) practice, work-related travel, mediated meeting, sustainable communication
National Category
Social Anthropology Environmental Management Communication Studies Work Sciences Human Aspects of ICT
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-129041 (URN)10.1007/978-3-658-03452-8_8 (DOI)978-3-658-03451-1 (ISBN)978-3-658-03452-8 (ISBN)
Funder
Vinnova
Note

QC 20131017

Available from: 2013-09-18 Created: 2013-09-18 Last updated: 2015-10-23Bibliographically approved

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Börjesson Rivera, Miriam

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