Towards an ethnography of electrification in rural India: Social relations and values in household energy exchanges

Abhigyan Singh, Alex T. Strating, Natalia Romero Herrera, Hylke W. van Dijk, David Keyson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
47 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Many energy researchers and practitioners envision householders to have an active role in local energy distribution in emerging energy systems. In the energy literature, the dominant view of local energy distribution, grounded in the rational choice perspective, sees exchanges of energy between households as energy trading. The existing energy literature lacks conceptualization of social and personal exchange of energy between households that is mutually structured and negotiated. This article builds on the theoretical works of an economic anthropologist, Stephen Gudeman, to conceptually discuss such energy exchanges. This article reports from an ‘ethnographic intervention’ study conducted at an off-grid village in rural India for three months (1 February–30 April 2016). The ethnographic data analysis reveals how social relations and diverse cultural values influence on energy exchanges between households in the village. The article introduces ‘circle of mutual energy exchange’ as a conceptual, analytical and descriptive unit for understanding such energy exchanges. The article describes two co-existing and dialectically connected modes of energy exchanges: ‘mutual energy sharing’ and ‘mutual energy trading.’

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-115
Number of pages13
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Volume30
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Economic anthropology
  • Energy poverty
  • Energy sharing
  • India

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