From individuals to collectives in energy systems — A social practice, identity and rhythm inspired lens

Sonja Oliveira, Anna Chatzimichali, Ed Atkins, Lidia Badarnah, Faezeh Bagheri Moghaddam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The need for socially smart energy systems that incorporate both individual and collective social, spatial, and technical dimensions is increasing. However, the social, spatial, and technical interplay between individual and collective scales has been poorly studied and lacks a conceptual basis. Most research to date has focused on social, technical, socio-technical, or spatial approaches at the individual level, or at the collective level independently of the individual. Therefore, overlooking the complex underlying dynamics between the individual and the collective and the multidimensional and multimodal nature of energy use and demand across scales. In response, we propose a novel integration of social practice, social identity theory, and rhythm analysis, with a focus on the collective capabilities of energy users, observable across neighbourhood social contexts and spatial scales. Our conceptual framework offers analytical benefits to energy research and policy by viewing energy users within their individual and collective socio-technical contexts across rhythms of everyday routines. This approach can inform future research in energy systems, as well as policy and practice in the design of new governance mechanisms and engineering requirements for socially smart grids, devices, and collective energy systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103279
Number of pages5
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Early online date20 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors declare the following financial interests/personal relationships which may be considered as potential competing interests: Sonja Oliveira reports financial support was provided by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (grant number EP/V041770/1).

Data availability:
No data was used for the research described in the article.


  • Energy systems
  • HEM
  • Rhythm analysis
  • Social identity theory
  • Social practice theory
  • Spatial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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