Category Archives: Time

Videos: DEMAND: The Animated Series

We have published a series of five short animated films that represent some of the core ideas, insights, and proposals from the DEMAND centre’s five-year programme of research.

You can see all 5 episodes on the Youtube playlist below:

Episode 1: What is Energy Demand? And Why Does it Matter?

Episode2: Changing Energy Demand: Why Social Practices Matter

Episode 3: How Do Infrastructure Make Energy Demand?

Episode 4: Unpacking Peak Demand: Societal Rhythms of Energy and Travel

Episode 5: Using Non-Energy Policies to Reduce Energy Demand

All episodes were written by Janine Morley, Elizabeth Shove, and myself and animated by the talented Adam York Gregory.


News: Projects on Future Flexibility in Energy Demand Funded as Part of New UK Research Centre


Elizabeth Shove and I will be part of a new £19.5 million UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand (UKCRED) funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The new centre, led by Nick Eyre (Oxford), will bring together a world-leading and multi-disciplinary group of researchers to develop and deliver internationally leading research focusing on energy demand from a systemic, socio-technical perspective.


We will be working with Jacopo Torriti (Reading ) who is leading the theme on Flexibility. The theme includes six projects that examine aspects of spatial and temporal flexibility in energy systems and society. The aim is to develop new ways of conceptualising and measuring future flexibility in energy demand.

We will be running projects to help conceptualise flexibility as an outcome of emerging socio-temporal patterns that improve understanding how rhythms and practices might fit with future decarbonised and renewable energy systems, and trying to understand whether there might be ways of modifying socio-temporal rhythms to fit better with changing patterns of energy supply.

The UKCRED Centre involves more than 40 academics at 13 institutions across the UK including Oxford, Leeds, Reading, UCL, Loughborough, Manchester, Sussex, Surrey, LSE, Edinburgh, West of England, and York Universities.

See write up on Lancaster News here and from EPSRC 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.

Seminar for Anthropology of Health at Durham


Durham Cathedral from the River Wear on the way back to the train station.

Last week, I gave a talk to the Anthropology of Health Research Group at Durham University on theories of practice and public health.

The beginning of the talk was based on our article in Critical Public Health, tracing some ideas from The Dynamics of Social Practice (2012) and using the example of smoking. Then I extended some of these arguments to talk about the temporal organisation and material arrangements that have underpinned changing ways of eating in the UK over the last 50 years. The slides from my talk are here.

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A great lunch with students in the Physical Activity Lab. Photo from Ben Kasstan @kasstanb

It was great to meet the community of PhD students in the Physical Activity Lab, to find out about all their interesting, and to discuss the significance of shifting research in health towards social practices.

Second Institutional Rhythms and Energy Demand Working Group

On the 7th February 2017, we held the second working group meeting for the Institutional Rhythms project. This time the working group met at Airedale General Hospital and began to develop outputs based on conceptual contributions taken from the project and two practical case examples presented by working group members.


Jo Davy and Frank Swinton presenting Rapid Improvement work on discharge at Airedale Hospital.

Alexis Keech, Head of Environmental Sustainability for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, presented on some of the issues resulting from increasing demand for patient transport and on how the service was responding to these increasing pressures. Jo Davy, Head of Quality Improvement at Airedale, presented on work at Airedale to improve patient discharge and flow.

The working group used concepts developed in the first meeting about temporal sequences, cycles, and institutional rhythms to work through potential new opportunities for shifting temporal arrangements to manage and steer demand for hospital services and patient transport.


Working group members enjoying floorball on a narrow and obstacle filled pitch. But at least it wasn’t forty degrees this time!

As aways there was, of course, time for a (slightly unorthodox) game of floorball!

The third and final meeting of the working group will take place in Leeds on the 23rd May where the group will work on developing further example cases and strategies for disseminating outputs from the project across the NHS.

Click here for more information on the Institutional Rhythms and Energy Demand Working Group process and outputs.

TASA 2016


Panel at TASA. #thatleantho

The Australian Sociological Association’s Annual Conference was held in Melbourne this year, just as I was there visiting Beyond Behaviour Change and the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT. So it was great timing to join the Environment and Society stream. I presented some more of the work from the Institutional Rhythms project and joined in a short question panel on practice theory and sustainability.


The title of my talk was ‘Fixity and Flexibility in Hospital Discharge: Temporal Rhythms and How to Entrain Them‘.


The lens of practice theory. Designed and produced by Sarah Royston.


It was great to see lots of new projects presented in the Environment and Society stream that were taking a practice theory approach to investigating interesting empirical cases. There was some more discussion before and after the session about ‘using’ the ‘lens’ of practice theory. See Elizabeth Shove’s contribution in a collection of Responses to the PBES Thinking Notes for more on this.

Publication: Health and Place


A new special issue in Health and Place on Exercise and Environment and edited by Russell Hitchings and Alan Latham will be published shortly. I have an article in this issue which is available online now here. (An open access version of the accepted manuscript is available here.)

The article is based on empirical work that I conducted while doing my doctoral research, which was, in part, on the establishment and maintenance of habits and routines.