Published by Science Direct Journals & Books
Authors: RihabKhalid and MaissRazem
The nexus of gendered domestic practices, energy and space use remains under-researched in energy studies, particularly in the Global South. This paper takes a gendered practice-theoretical approach to investigate women’s differential energy and space use in domestic practices. Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with middleclass homeowners in Lahore, Pakistan and Amman, Jordan show that energy and space use are implicated in the gendering of domestic practices in three ways: 1) contingency of women’s energy consumption on spatial affordances of housing developments in the gendered division of private/public spheres, 2) women as primary performers of domestic energy flexibility and demand management practices and 3) women’s varied and differential agency in their roles as wives, mothers, caregivers, mothers- and daughters-in-law, income-generators, and housemaids. In Lahore, women as household managers negotiate domestic practices under an intermittent electricity supply and power dynamics of extended families and domestic service. In Amman, nuclear family structures and declining servant culture result in women’s greater reliance on energy-intensive technologies, especially for working women. In both contexts, modernist spatial regulations that determine building density and setbacks, height restrictions, spatial layouts and window placement etc. exhibit gender oversights and conflict with socio-cultural norms of privacy and segregation. This has implications for domestic energy demand, with different women having to negotiate between comfort, convenience, and consumption. The study highlights limitations of current gender-neutral and gender-binary approaches in housing and energy and calls for greater socio-cultural understanding of gender relations and intersectional agencies in domestic energy practices for improved equity and sustainability.