Category Archives: practice theory

Fully Funded ESRC NWSSDTP CASE PhD Studentship





Situating Everyday First Aid: Social Practices and Settings of Incidents and Help

We have a call open for applications for a three year, fully funded, ESRC North West Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (NWSSDTP) CASE PhD studentship working in collaboration with the British Red Cross and beginning in October 2018.

Deadline for applications is 9th February 2018.

The project investigates the social organisation of first aid. The research will focus on the social and institutional settings within which first aid ‘incidents’ occur and how these settings influence the kinds of ‘responses’ and forms of help that follow.

The aim is to provide a better understanding of accidents, risks, and harms by positioning first aid incidents not as random events but as embedded in the spatial and temporal ordering of social practices and social life. Further understanding of the social organisation of help will put the Red Cross and others in a better position to promote first aid skills, to help save more lives, and reduce harm.


Dr Stanley Blue, Professor Elizabeth Shove (Department of Sociology, Lancaster University), and Penny Newell (Education Research, British Red Cross).

For details on eligibility and how to apply, click here.

For further information about the project, click here.


Call for Papers: EASST Panel on ‘Intersections and Meetings between Practice Theory and STS’

EASSTEASST is coming to Lancaster in July!

With Torik Holmes, Allison Hui, and Elizabeth Shove,  we are holding a panel on ‘Intersections and Meetings between Practice Theory and STS‘ which is part of the stream on ‘Confluence, Collaboration, and Intersections’.

Our panel will explore understandings and uses of the notion of practice within the field of Science and Technology Studies. Its purpose is to examine both confluences and challenges arising from working at the intersection of STS scholarship and social theories of practice.

The call for papers is now open, the deadline to propose a paper is the 14th February 2018, and the long abstract is below:

Theories of practice are increasingly widely invoked across a range of fields, including within Science and Technology Studies. There are, for example, references to user practices (e.g. Schot et al.), to energy saving practices (e.g. Gram-Hanssen), to practices of consumption (e.g. Wallenborn and Wilhite), and to the value of approaching empirical topics through the ‘lens’ of practice. Within STS, there are also traditions of studying situated practices (e.g. Lave and Wenger; Star) and communities of practice (e.g. Suchman, Wenger), as well as STS-inspired organisational studies of management as practice (e.g. Orlikowski). In addition to a shared interest in practices, STS and practice theories have further been brought into dialogue around issues of materiality, spatiality, and methodology.

The purpose of this panel is to interrogate these meetings, probe different interpretations of practice, and develop questions and concepts that lie at the intersection of these various traditions. Put simply, we invite papers that contribute to exploring two questions: What does STS scholarship contribute to the understanding and analysis of social practice? And, conversely, how do social theories of practice (in all their forms) add to, or challenge, debates within STS?

Papers might include conceptual contributions based either on empirical investigation or innovative combinations or conjunctions of ideas from across ‘practice theory’ broadly defined. Whatever the angle or the approach, we are looking for contributors to engage with challenging and collaborative intersections, successful and failed meetings and innovative integrations and combinations between practice theory and STS.


Publication: Demanding Energy

Demanding EnergyI have a chapter published in  a new book edited by Allison Hui, Rosie Day, and Gordon Walker. Demanding Energy: Space, Time and Change collects research from within and beyond the DEMAND Centre on the dynamics of energy demand and presents this range of contributions and case studies to examine different social processes and dynamics, aspects and issues related to the topic of energy demand.

You can email me for an accepted manuscript (pre-copy-edited version) of my chapter: ‘Reducing demand for energy in hospitals: Opportunities for and limits to temporal coordination’.

My chapter describes some of the ways that demand for energy is made in hospitals, developing an account of energy demand as the outcome of the organisation of the connected working practices that constitute the regular provision of healthcare. It draws on interview data taken from an ethnographic study of institutional rhythms and the organisation of working practices in hospitals to describe how changes in the material arrangements, professional boundaries, and temporalities that underpin hospital life affect the fixity and flexibility of connections between practices in ways that matter for the potential for large institutions to achieve demand side response and to be able to foster the design of new and less resource-intensive ways of working.

This collection has a website with chapter abstracts, author biographies, reviews, and a teaser animation. And you can find open access versions of the introduction and conclusion here.

Research Briefing Paper: Institutional Rhythms

Picture2This research briefing paper was prepared in collaboration with the Institutional Rhythms and Energy Demand Working Group and presented to the Northern England Sustainability and Health Network. It provides ideas and suggests potential opportunities for energy and mobility demand management in the NHS.

The paper examines two examples of ordinary working arrangements that hold in place particular patterns of demand for energy and travel: the first is the discharge process and the second patient transport.

It describes the sequences and synchronisations of the ordinary working activities involved that result in energy-intensive pinch points in ways of working and the boundaries of responsibility that hold them in place. Potential opportunities are identified in reconfigurations that are already taking place in hospitals, that might be adapted and adjusted, to shape patterns and profiles of demand for energy and travel and reduce associated carbon emissions.

Publication: Time and Society


My article titled ‘Institutional Rhythms: Combining Practice Theory and Rhythmanalysis to Conceptualise Processes of Institutionalisation’ is out now and is Open Access in Time and Society.

This article looks at some of the ways that practice theorists have drawn on theories of time and  rhythm to describe how practices are organised in everyday life. It does so to argue that Lefebvre’s work on rhythmanalysis provides important ideas for understanding how practices become temporally connected and societal rhythms become institutionalised.

Response to Government Consultation on Industrial Strategy

IndustrialWith Greg Marsden and Elizabeth Shove, we submitted a response from DEMAND to a Government Consultation on the Industrial Strategy Green Paper.

The consultation was for views on the approach to building a modern industrial strategy that addresses long-term challenges to the UK economy.

We responded to two specific questions:

Q27 What are the most important steps the Government should take to limit energy costs over the long-term?
Q34 Do you agree the principles set out above are the right ones? If not what is missing?

In response, we say that the industrial strategy pays considerable attention to energy systems and infrastructures – but none at all to a symmetrical discussion of demand. We go on to elaborate on how that missing topic might be included, drawing on ideas and research from the DEMAND centre.