In seeking to go ‘beyond’ behaviour change, researchers understand change as a product of transforming socially- and materially-shared practices, such as cycling, laundering, heating, cooling, exercising, eating or travelling. Our research focuses on understanding how practices are established as ‘normal’ ways of living, working or playing, how and why they are changing, and what opportunities exist to move them in more sustainable directions.

Research activity includes a range of applied projects with industry and government partners which redefine current environmental and social problems, and identify innovative ways of intervening in them.

Aims

The Beyond Behaviour Change research program encompasses projects and initiatives which seek to:

  1. Redefine policy and industry problems from a social practice perspective and identify new avenues for social and environmental change.
  2. Explore the role of new technologies and materials (housing, smart meters, Telepresence, neighbourhoods, energy and water systems) in mediating and co-shaping everyday practice.
  3. Make the key concepts of social practice theory accessible for government and industry partners who are seeking to intervene in everyday life.

Social practice theory reading group

The Beyond Behaviour Change research program hosts an interdisciplinary and inter-university reading group for academics working with theories of social practice in applied contexts. The group is convened monthly by Yolande Strengers and Cecily Maller.

The following reading lists are available for download:

For further information contact Yolande or Cecily.

 

Higher education

The Centre for Urban Research provides a supportive and interactive environment for Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) candidates and opportunities exist for HDR students wishing to apply social practice theory to specific contexts.

Projects

Hidden energy poverty: Case studies research project

Investigating energy and water under-use by households in order to afford utility bill payments which may have adverse effects on health and quality of life.

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Smart Home Control: Exploring the potential for enabling technologies in households

RMIT researchers are trialling ‘smart’ home control devices in 46 households in Victoria and South Australia – to assess the potential of these devices to help manage home electricity consumption.

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Heatwaves, Homes & Health

The heatwaves, homes and health project is seeking to understand the experiences of households during very hot weather.

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Buildings and precincts adapted for future climate change

User perspectives in purpose built low energy housing

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Implementing Sustainability in the Built Environment

An analysis of the role and effectiveness of the building and planning system in delivering sustainable cities.

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Work/life ecologies: lifestyles, sustainability practices

This project aims to understand staff and students' broader lifestyles as part of a work-life ecology, occurring across a range of spaces, both physical and virtual.

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Automating the smart home

This project will be the first Australian investigation of how automated technologies are being incorporated into household practices, and the expectations they promote, sustain and transform.

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Embedding sustainability in food practices: Investigating spaces of food provisioning and consumption for students at RMIT city campus

As large scale participants in food provisioning and consumption practices, academic institutions like universities have a crucial part to play in food sustainability transitions

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Constructions and practices of ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ meat: implications for meat consumption and the treatment of animals

Reflecting the ethical turn in consumption, meat promoted and labeled as ethical, humane and/or sustainable has emerged as an apparent solution to increasing concerns.

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Horsham Catalyst Housing Evaluation

The Victorian Government’s Department of Human Services has engaged the Beyond Behaviour Change research team to undertake an evaluation of a sustainable housing project in Horsham .

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The rise of ethical consumption in Australia: from the margins to the mainstream

This nationwide project is the first of its kind to examine the rise and impact of ethical consumption in Australia.

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Changing demand: the flexibility of energy practices in larger households with dependent children

Researchers from the Beyond Behaviour Change research team investigated changing household energy demand.

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Disconnections case studies, Consumer Action Law Centre

The Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC) engaged the Beyond Behaviour Change research team to interview householders who have been disconnected from their energy supply.

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EPA approaches to behaviour change

In partnership with BehaviourWorks at Monash University, Beyond Behaviour Change researchers conducted interviews and site visits with EPA field officers.

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Lower effort energy demand reduction, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

This UK based interdisciplinary project integrated energy monitoring with design and social anthropological understanding of household energy use.

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Co-managing home energy demand

This project investigated a range of issues concerning home energy demand.

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Lifestyle audit

As part of the Australian Government's Smart Grid, Smart City demonstration project, Ausgrid engaged the Beyond Behaviour Change team to develop a home energy audit for households.

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The globalisation of comfort practices: A study of international students

This project sought to understand the carriage, (dis)integration and transferral of international students’ comfort practices on arrival to Australia.

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Adapting aspirations & expectations on the coastal suburban & regional fringe

This Think Tank established a dialogue between local and state government, academic experts and the housing sector.

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Kildonan Uniting Care: Sustainable Families Project

RMIT’s Beyond Behaviour Change group assisted Kildonan Uniting Care in developing a social practices approach to project design and evaluation.

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Assessing resilient urban systems to support long term adaptation to climate change

The Resilient Urban Systems project aimed to assess the capacity of community-level urban energy and water systems to support long term adaptation to climate change.

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Exploring the influence of cultural background on first and second generation migrants’ use of energy and water in the home

This project explored how established migrant families in Melbourne and Sydney conceptualise waste, energy and water consumption in the context of their everyday lives.

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Towards Carbon Neutral Communities: Making the Transition

This project focused on the role of behaviour change initiatives and other non-technical interventions in transitioning towards carbon neutrality.

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Selandra Rise: Researching planning for health and wellbeing

This project explored how the planning and design of a new residential community can influence the health and wellbeing of future residents.

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Related Content

Events

Between resistance and resilience: a study of flood risk management in the Don Valley (UK)

The aim of this presentation is to examine flood risk management in England as a combined environmental, socio-technical and socio-cultural process, using a specific case study of the Don Valley in South Yorkshire. Flooding is a recurrent threat in England. Moreover, according to various authors, governments in England as in many other countries have increasingly favoured […]

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Can smart cities provide more sustainable ways of life?

Ubiquitous computing, mobile devices, and big data come together to give rise to a new urban paradigm being celebrated by many technology corporations and municipalities alike: the smart city. Yet, the general tenor of the current hype around smart cities is mainly about efficiency and productivity gains through automation and algorithmic analysis, and growth. What evidence […]

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How do hospitals and other complex institutions shape energy and travel demand?

In this presentation, guest lecturer Stanley Blue from Lancaster University examines the role that large and complex institutions –like hospitals– play in shaping demand for energy and travel. The Institutional Rhythms project is based in and builds on the DEMAND Research Centre’s starting proposition that: resources like energy, travel, and goods are consumed in the […]

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Animals, automated devices and ecosystems

Animals, automated devices and ecosystems: a symposium on the agencies of dynamic non-humans in theories of practice. We live in societies increasingly characterised by the blurring of human, natural and digital systems. Contemporary transformations, such as the ‘Internet of Things’ revolution, the humanisation of pets, and more frequent and intense natural disasters, call for focused […]

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Planning and designing healthy communities: Selandra Rise

VicHealth is pleased to invite you to the launch of the Selandra Rise research findings and recommendations. In an Australian first, this five-year research project, conducted by academics from RMIT Centre for Urban Research explored how health can be incorporated in the planning and design of developing urban environments to promote good health – from conception […]

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News & Blog

New bus route improves well-being and social connection in Melbourne’s new communities

Research exploring the impact of a bus route a new housing development on Melbourne’s south-east growth corridor has revealed the positive effects on community well being with the early delivery of bus services in new greenfield developments.

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Energy pricing policy review finds gaps for heat vulnerable residents

A review of electricity pricing policy by RMIT academics has found little consideration of the health and financial risks to vulnerable groups during heatwaves or hot weather.

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‘Smart home’ gadgets promise to cut power bills but many lie idle – or can even boost energy use

“Smart” home control devices promise to do many things, including helping households reduce their energy bills. However, our research published today suggests that these devices are not the “easy” answer to energy management.

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Smart home control – is the reality as bright as its promise?

A new RMIT study finds that ‘smart home’ devices may not be as bright as we thought.

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Smart home technology: not the brightest way to save energy

A new study by RMIT University has found smart home control devices may actually increase energy use rather than cutting it, with households using them more for lifestyle benefits than to save power.

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New study exposes the sacrifices families make to pay energy bills

A new report by the Victorian Council of Social Service and the RMIT Centre for Urban Research shows the struggles and sacrifices Australians on low-incomes are making to stay connected to power.

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Smart home industry: Do convenience and energy efficiency always go together?

The smart home is no exception in its ambition for easier living achieved through digital and connected consumerism. At the crux of this idea is the enrolment of internet-enabled devices and appliances in the creation of an even more convenient lifestyle.

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Writing retreats: Academic indulgence or scholarly necessity?

It’s not uncommon for academics to attend conferences that cost thousands of dollars and require time away from our usual place of work.

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Thinking about a sustainable retrofit? Here are three things to consider

Sitting at home in the summer heat, your mind may start to wander to that fancy new air conditioner. But when it comes to making your house comfortable and sustainable, prevention is better than cure.

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Hot dogs and cool cats: keeping pets cool without blowing your energy bill

As the weather heats up, Australian households won’t just be cranking up the air conditioning for themselves. Some households will be turning it on for their dogs or cats.

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New study examines heatwave health risks on vulnerable households

As global warming makes heatwaves more frequent, longer and hotter, how do we help households who are most vulnerable to health and financial impacts?

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Urban researchers shine at RMIT Research Awards

Three researchers from the Centre for Urban Research have been recognised by RMIT University for their outstanding research contributions and industry collaboration.

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Research Officer (Social Sciences)

The Centre for Urban research is looking for a new Research Officer to join its thriving Beyond Behaviour Change program.

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Sustainable housing’s expensive, right? Not when you look at the whole equation

Sustainable housing can also have important benefits for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, as the report released this week shows.

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Green homes offer financial relief for vulnerable families: study

New research by RMIT urban experts on low-carbon housing in Horsham has found that households could be better off by A$1,000 per year and boost their health and living conditions.

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The hidden energy cost of smart homes

Light globes that change colour with the tap of an app, coffee machines you can talk to, and ovens that know exactly how long to cook your food: our homes are getting smart

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The temporal dynamics of being an international visiting scholar

In this short piece of writing we are interested in the ways in which one globalising move — the appointment of the ‘visiting academic’ — disrupts and rearranges the temporal routines of academics’ everyday lives.

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Researchers on journey to new discoveries with $2.3m ARC grants

Researchers from RMIT received funding to deliver innovative, impact-associated research from the latest round of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects scheme.

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Building in connectivity integral to health of people on urban fringe

Connectivity to public transport with job prospects close by is integral to improving the health and wellbeing of residents in developing fringe growth areas, according to new research.

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Build in good services from day one for healthier communities: lessons from Selandra Rise

Building new residential communities is no mean feat. Building healthy new communities is an even greater challenge.

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Reducing commute times integral to the health of outer surburban residential communities

Providing good public transport links with job opportunities near affordable housing is crucial to improving the health and wellbeing of residential communities in outer suburban growth areas, according to new research.

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Hot cities: the ‘smart’ response to urban heat threats

Significant urban policy and planning efforts have been directed at the problem of rising heat in cities.

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Researchers honoured for city fringe health project

RMIT researchers have been recognised at the State of Australian Cities Conference (SOAC) for their work exploring problems faced by people living on the urban fringe.

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Feral o’clock: why families struggle to shift their energy use

Research with parents reveals that many household routines are unlikely to shift in response to cost-reflective tariffs such as time-of-use (TOU).

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Urban researcher in profile: Dr Crystal Legacy

Community concern can be ignored when government considers transport planning, but one RMIT researcher is delving deeper into the issue.

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Study examines electricity use in family life

Families around Australia are needed to take part in RMIT research to better understand how electricity is used in households with children.

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