Peoples’ daily activities might seem of limited importance for the resource use in society as a whole and its impact on the environment, but taken together their influence is significant. However, we cannot pretend that there is no relation between the global environmental problems and the many individuals’ use of fossil fuels for heating buildings, cooking and transportation.
Societal structures and systems: support or constraints?My research interest is based on knowledge “from below” about peoples’ everyday life and I also study the aggregate activity patterns that are revealed when many individuals’ activities are looked upon. Special interest is paid to activities with big environmental consequences. Such a research interest might be mistaken for placing the responsibility for living environmentally sound and with a limited use of energy on the individuals. This is not the case. Instead I regard knowledge about how people de facto live their lives as inevitable for the understanding of how societal structures and systems constrain people to live a more socially and ecologically sustainable way. What role does the organization of and responsibility for recycling, energy supply, transports, investment in appliances in dwellings, localization of dwellings, work places and service, play for sustainability in its various meanings? To answer such questions knowledge is needed about how people in their everyday life can navigate in time and space between the various places they need to visit in order to pursue their many daily activities aiming at a good life.
Studies of energy use – point of departureMy research currently concerns energy use at household level and the aggregate level activity pattern of energy consuming activities. Then it is of vital importance to know who performs what activities. It is always individual persons who perform activities, but the outcome of the activities performed might of course be important for other household members too, for example, if one household member cooks for all household members in a multi-person household. Therefore, concepts and methods are needed that make a difference between the household members as individuals and the household as a unit, and I develop concepts and methods for that purpose.
Previously, I have studied work organization in automobile industry and dairies, teachers’ work activities in the context of their everyday life as a whole, and division of labor in households.
All my studies are inspired by the time-geographic approach, which leans on the assumption that each human being is an indivisible individual which calls for reconsidering some traditional socio-economic categorizations. I have developed time-geographic concepts and methods, not least a time-geographic diary method. The point of departure of this method is that the activities performed by an individual in some way are meaningful for this individual and in which the sequential order in which the activities are performed are important for the opportunities for the individual to fulfill his or her projects.
The time-geographic diary method developed is used in occupational therapy, social work and energy use research. It gives a picture of everyday life that the diarists recognize themselves and it can be used for reflection and change efforts both for individuals and organizations.
The New art of making a car. Volvo Uddevalla Plant.Documentary film.