Smart energy futures and social practice imaginaries: Forecasting scenarios for pet care in Australian homes

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In this article we demonstrate how existing scenario-planning and forecasting methods employed in the energy sector envision, prioritise and limit possible futures. We propose that 'social practice imaginaries’ can be mobilised to develop alternative future scenarios grounded in changing everyday life. To undertake this we critically interrogate the sociotechnical imaginary given rise through an Australian smart technology scenario-planning exercise, which asked: ‘what might Australia's electricity sector look like in 2050?’ Proposing that this question needs to be reframed to account for the question of ‘what might everyday practices look like in 2050?’ we experiment with a 'stay-at-home pets’ scenario. We draw on secondary data on pet care trends and a decade of ethnographic research with Australian households. Through this example, we demonstrate how viewing futures through pet care and entertainment practices shifts the conceptualisation of the energy problems that the sector seeks to address through smart technology deployments. We conclude by emphasising how this social practice imaginary expands opportunities and pathways for understanding and intervening in possible futures, and call for further analysis through this conceptual lens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-115
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Energy futures
  • Everyday life
  • Household energy demand
  • Scenario planning
  • Social practices
  • Sociotechnical imaginaries

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