From gas to green: designing a social contagion strategy for the energy transition in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

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Abstract

To reach the 2050 climate goals, massive socio-technical transitions are required. For requisite impact, not only industry and government need to transform, but a critical mass of society must adopt greener alternatives. However, people have a tendency to maintain the status quo and often resist change until a final moment of urgency or crisis. This study focuses on the Dutch energy transition. We propose and illustrate how social influence or ‘social contagion’ can be used to activate communities of citizens, not just individuals, to adopt greener alternatives; leveraging the strength of design in shaping behaviour (change). Lying at the intersection of design, psychology, and sociology, our study contributes toward theories of scaling behaviour change and proposes practical tools to establish change through design. The results show how design can play a critical role in shaping sustainable systemic transitions and argues for pluralistic applications of design thinking.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Design Thinking
EditorsKarla Straker, Cara Wrigley
Chapter9
Pages164-189
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-80220-312-7
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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