International Workshop 2022

Call for papers
International Workshop on Household Innovation and Agency in Sustainability Transitions

Prato, Italy: October 26-28, 2022

(available for download as .pdf or .doc file)

Workshop scope

This international workshop will bring together interdisciplinary perspectives on household innovation and agency in sustainability transitions. Households are substantial sites of resource use and are routinely targeted as policy subjects and as consumers by sustainability initiatives. But households are also sites of tinkering and innovation, where new technologies, services, behaviours, practices, skills, knowledge and norms are embedded, reconfigured and transformed.

Despite relevant debates on the geography of transitions (Truffer et al., 2015), the consumption-side of socio-technical systems (McMeekin and Southerton, 2012) and user-led innovation in shaping transitions (Ornetzeder and Rohracher, 2006; Schot et al., 2016), the literature on sustainability transitions overall remains surprisingly muted about households as a site, scale, and social setting of sustainability transitions.

We invite contributions from across the sustainability transitions community and the broader social sciences, such as: human geography (Reid et al., 2010, Lane and Gorman-Murray, 2011, Murphy, 2015); Science and Technology Studies (Hyysalo et al., 2013); household sociology (Strengers, 2011, Lindsay and Maher, 2013); ecological economics (Røpke, 2009); and Behavioural Change (Kaufman et al., 2021), to improve and broaden theorisations, methodological considerations and empirical explorations of households in transitions.

We invite contributions that unpack the household as a dynamic social unit and material setting in the context of multiple scales and other social units (Raven et al., 2021). We seek to complement and broaden the prevailing ‘closed-box’ approach to household research, which tends to consider households as a fixed unit of analysis, with no attention to internal dynamics or how these may interact with system-level changes.

Contributions can address, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  • Household(er)s’ agency, e.g.:
    • What kind of agency do household(er)s enact in ongoing sustainability transitions
    • How does household(er) agency differ across socio-technical systems?
  • Unpacking household dynamics, e.g.:
    • How can gender, generational or income differences be regarded in relation to household sustainability transitions?
    • How do household(er)s influence other household(er)s around sustainability transitions?
  • Household innovation across scales and socio-technical systems, e.g.:
    • How do different types of household(er)s engage in innovative ways with sustainability transitions, e.g. through behaviour, social or technological innovation?
    • How does the household scale mediate as a social unit between individuals and higher-level scales in transitions, such as ‘community’ or ‘social movements’?
  • Households in policy and governance, e.g:
    • How does current sustainability transition policy understand and engage with household(er)s and their agency to innovate?
    • What are success and failures in transition policies targeting household(er)s?

Workshop practicalities

The workshop is hosted by Monash University’s School of Social Sciences and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute at Monash’s Prato campus in Italy, Europe - accessible via rail from Florence or Rome. The workshop is expected to begin at noon October 26 and ends at noon October 28, followed by a farewell lunch, to allow for an afternoon departure.

The workshop requires full-paper submission and is structured to support substantial discussion of contributions. The organisers aim to edit a special issue in a peer-reviewed journal such as Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, Global Environmental Change, Environmental Science and Policy, or Sustainable Production and Consumption. This will be discussed with workshop participants.

The workshop will be free of charge and will be able to host up to about 25 participants. Up to 2 nights of accommodation per paper will be paid for by the organisers and day-time meals during the workshop and one workshop dinner will also be provided. We invite the participants to use their own budgets for travel and any other costs to participate.

Key Dates

May 1, 2022: abstract submission deadline

June 1, 2022: notification of abstract acceptance

Sept 15, 2022: full paper submission deadline

Oct 26-28, 2022: workshop takes place

Abstract and full paper requirements and submission

Extended abstracts up to 600 words (excluding references) are required. Abstracts should clearly relate to the topic of the workshop, linking the notion of household(ers) to the notion of sustainability transitions and system-level change, provide a novel theoretical, methodological or empirical contribution, and describe the key research questions, theory, method, findings, and, if appropriate, make recommendations for research and practice.

After successful acceptance, a full paper is required. These will be circulated to participants prior to the workshop. Papers should be of high quality following regular requirements for peer-reviewed journal submissions. There are no hard limits on word count, but we anticipate lengths between 6000-8000 words. The workshop language will be English.

Abstracts should be submitted to Mae Wee ( by May 1, 2022.

For any other questions about the event, please also contact Mae Wee.

About the Organisers

Assoc. Prof. Ruth Lane, Monash School of Social Sciences, Australia

Prof. Dr. Rob Raven, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Australia

Prof. Dr. Jo Lindsay, Monash School of Social Sciences, Australia

Prof. Dr. Annica Kronsell, University of Göthenburg, Sweden

This workshop is part of the project ‘Household Innovation and the Transition to the Low-Waste City’, funded by the Australian Research Council.


Hyysalo, S., Juntunen, J.K., Freeman, S., 2013. User innovation in sustainable home energy technologies. Energy Policy. 55, 490-500

Kaufman, S., Saeri, A., Raven, R.P.J.M., Malekpour, S., Smith, L., 2021. Behaviour in sustainability transitions: a mixed methods literature review. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. 40, 586-608

Lane, R., Gorman-Murray, A. (Eds.), Material geographies of household sustainability. Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Farnham, pp. 1-16.

Lindsay, J., Maher, J., 2013. Consuming families: buying, making, producing family life in the 21st century. Routledge, London; New York.

McMeekin, A., Southerton, D., 2012. Sustainability transitions and final consumption: practices and socio-technical systems. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management. 24, 345-361

Murphy, J.T., 2015. Human geography and socio-technical transition studies: promising intersections. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. 17, 73-91

Ornetzeder, M., Rohracher, H., 2006. User-led innovations and participation processes: lessons from sustainable energy technologies. Energy Policy. 34, 138-150

Raven, R.P.J.M., Reynolds, D., Lane, R., Lindsay, J., Kronsell, A., Arunachalam, D., 2021. Households in sustainability transitions: a systematic review and new research avenues. 87-107

Reid, L., Sutton, P., Hunter, C., 2010. Theorizing the meso level: the household as a crucible of pro-environmental behaviour. Progress in Human Geography. 34, 309-327

Røpke, I., 2009. Theories of practice – new inspiration for ecological economic studies on consumption. Ecological Economics. 68, 2490-2497

Schot, J., Kanger, K., Verbong, G., 2016. The roles of users in shaping transitions to new energy systems. Nature Energy. 1, 1-7

Strengers, Y., 2011. Beyond demand management: co-managing energy and water practices with Australian households. Policy Studies. 32, 35-58

Truffer, B., Murphy, J., Raven, R.P.J.M., 2015. The geography of sustainability transitions: contours of an emerging theme. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. 17, 63-72