The Domestic Nexus: Interrogating the interlinked practices of water, energy and food consumption

The Nexus concept refers to the interdependencies of energy, food and water. It is playing an increasingly key role in focusing academic debate and policy development, focusing attention as it does upon the inter-relations between water, energy and food resource flows and related issues in the wider environment. To date, research around the Nexus has principally addressed supply side issues at the national and international level. This ESRC-funded network will extend the Nexus concept to examine the dynamics of consumption at the domestic (household) scale. The household is a critical junction where the provisioning of resources (water, food, energy) meets with everyday practices (of laundry, eating, comfort, etc.).

The rationales for extending the nexus concept to the household scale are that:

  1. The dynamics of consumption are fundamental to a holistic understanding of the nexus, as the systems of supply and distribution through which energy, water and food flow ultimately are rooted in demand for services and products.
  2. The nexus of food, water and energy are as apparent at the domestic scale as anywhere else, being where systems of provision are brought together in the accomplishment of practices such as cooking or showering.
  3. A burgeoning field of research has explored domestic consumption in each of the water, food and energy domains, often revealing their inter-linkages. The ‘domestic nexus’ concept integrates across domains.

While consumption and provisioning have often been held analytically separate in previous research, practice theory has been shown to provide a vehicle for exploring the points of connection, mediation and translation between ‘doing’ and ‘providing’ (Reckwitz 2002, Warde 2005). By focusing on the coordination and reproduction of consumer practice through an exploration of the routines and rhythms of everyday life it provides a means to realise innovative work on Nexus issues and a framework for generating new insights into how resource-intensive practices might be reshaped. The workshop series will critically engage the burgeoning research already carried out in relation to domestic energy, food and water consumption in relation to the nexus concept, and implications for policy.

The series comprises a workshop in Sheffield on 15th October, one in Manchester on 23rd November, and one in London on 9th December 2015.

The Domestic Nexus is a networking project led by Matt Watson with Peter Jackson and Liz Sharp from University of Sheffield and Dale Southerton, David Evans, Alan Ward and Ali Browne at the University of Manchester. It is funded by the ESRC Nexus Network+.