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    The evolution of energy demand: politics, daily life and public housing, Britain 1920s-70s

    Trentmann, Frank and Carlsson-Hyslop, A. (2018) The evolution of energy demand: politics, daily life and public housing, Britain 1920s-70s. Historical Journal 61 (3), pp. 807-839. ISSN 0018-246X.

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    This article offers a fresh perspective on the historical evolution of energy consumption in Britain from the 1920s-70s. The twentieth century witnessed a series of energy transitions – from wood and coal to gas, electricity and oil – that have transformed modern lives. The literature has primarily charted this transformation by following supply, networks and technologies. We need to know more about people and their homes in this story, because it was here where energy was used. The article investigates the forces that shaped domestic demand by focusing on working class households in public housing. It examines the interaction between political frameworks, public housing infrastructures and the changing norms and practices of people’s daily lives. It does so by connecting social and political history with material culture. A set of case studies compares the different paths taken in three urban areas (London; Stocksbridge, an old industrial town; and Stevenage, a “new town”) in the provision of new infrastructures of gas, electricity and heating. Evidence collected at the time by the London County Council and other local authorities is used to analyse the uptake, use and resistance to changes in domestic infrastructure and new technologies, such as gas-lit coke ovens, underfloor heating and central heating. The case studies make a more general pitch for a new historical study of energy that places people’s lifestyles, their ideas of comfort and political attempts to change them more squarely at the centre of inquiry


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Energy, Consumption, Housing, Daily Life, Politics
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Research Centres and Institutes: Research in Environment and Sustainability, Centre for
    Depositing User: Frank Trentmann
    Date Deposited: 31 May 2017 09:27
    Last Modified: 09 May 2024 05:05


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