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Working Paper 18-7

The Lived Experience of Energy Vulnerability Among Social Housing Tenants: Emotional and subjective engagements

AUTHORS: Tom Hargreaves & Noel Longhurst

ABSTRACT: Dominant policy understandings of fuel poverty tend to overlook its lived experience. This results in narrow, overly technical problem framings and solutions that neglect the multiple, inter-related and dynamic factors that shape experiences of fuel poverty in situ. Recent qualitative work that has examined the lived experience of fuel poverty has begun to recognise the importance of emotional and subjective experiences to experiences of energy vulnerability, but these are generally regarded as consequences of the problem and thus are not treated as central to analyses. This paper explores a range of emotional engagements with energy vulnerability. The paper draws on new empirical data taken from 16 semi-structured interviews with social housing tenants as well as 10 interviews and a focus group (n=8) with housing association employees. Three distinct forms of emotion engagement were identified as of critical importance for experiences of energy vulnerability: i) worry, fear and control; ii) relationships of care; iii) embarrassment, trust and gratitude. Crucially, and for the first time, the paper shows that emotions are not merely a consequence of energy vulnerability but can also help to cause it. The paper concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of these findings.

CITATION: Hargreaves, T. & Longhurst, N. (2018) "The Lived Experience of Energy Vulnerability Among Social Housing Tenants: Emotional and subjective engagements"

Working Paper 18-7

Policy Brief 18-7

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