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Rendered invisible: Institutional misrecognition and the reproduction of energy poverty

Simcock, N, Frankowski, J and Bouzarovski, S (2021) Rendered invisible: Institutional misrecognition and the reproduction of energy poverty. Geoforum, 124. pp. 1-9. ISSN 0016-7185

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Abstract

This paper makes the case that a lack of political and institutional recognition underpins the (re)production of domestic energy poverty. Previous research into the drivers of energy poverty has tended to focus on household-scale material and economic factors, with relatively little attention paid to the symbolic structures that act to legitimise deprivation. To evidence our argument, we draw on a case study of Poland during the period 2010-2015, conducted via in-depth interviews with high-level decision-makers and experts. We utilise Nancy Fraser’s concept of ‘misrecognition’ to argue that during this period those suffering from energy poverty were discursively marginalised in two interlinked ways. First, ‘non-recognition’, in that the lived reality of energy poverty and the complexity of its causes were largely ‘rendered invisible’ in mainstream political and policy discourse. Second, ‘disrespect’, in that many dominant understandings of and responses to energy poverty were informed by narratives based on stigmatisation and othering. We demonstrate how these forms of misrecognition actively fed into policy design and operation at both national and local scales, ultimately contributing to the reproduction of energy poverty. We conclude by arguing that a progressive politics to address energy inequalities is predicated upon a symbolic strategy that involves raising awareness about the existence and prevalence of energy poverty, whilst also challenging narratives that frame disadvantaged groups as individually responsible for their own deprivation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 16 Studies in Human Society
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (new Sep 19)
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2021 09:46
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2021 09:46
DOI or Identification number: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2021.05.005
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15097

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