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 Alice Dal Gobbo

Alice Dal Gobbo

Research student, School of Social Sciences

I am an Italian PhD student, currently towards the end of my programme. My main research interests centre around sustainable transitions and everyday life. I have tackled this theme through a multimedia and multimodal ethnographic project of participant observation investigating everyday uses of energy and their transitions in the context of the economic crisis.

I have always been passionate about social theory, but also in empirical research and methods. Hence, I always try to integrate a rigorous approach to social science investigations and wider sociological-philosophical considerations. My research emerges at the crossroads of critical ecology, Marxism and critical theory, psychosocial theory and practice; I am currently investigating the potentialities of Deleuzian philosophy in the context of the social sciences of the environment.

Thesis

BECOMING-POOR, BECOMING-ANIMAL, BECOMING-PLANT… BECOMING-IMPERCEPTIBLE. AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF EVERYDAY ENERGY ASSEMBLAGES IN TRANSITION

The 2008 financial crisis has meant for the West a much wider social, political and economic questioning of its underpinnings. This delicate contingency combines with an increasingly evident ecologic crisis, indissolubly related to the capitalist, post-industrial, consumer economy that cracked in 2008. As the latter is proving unsustainable on all these levels, there is space for challenging this economic system and its underpinnings: development, industrialism and infinite growth (via consumption). Governments are putting in place measures that aim at environmental change mitigation, but with too little effect. With my study, I investigate the potentiality of the everyday as a site of ecological resistance, difference and creation. As a way of pursuing this, I designed a multimodal and multimedia participant observation study, focusing on energy use in everyday life. The locale is a town in the North-East of Italy, Vittorio Veneto, an interesting example of a formerly affluent area strongly hit by the recession. As a contribution to existent literature in this field, I draw and expand upon recent reflections that seek to go beyond the limitations of linguistic constructionism as the guiding approach to critical qualitative social sciences investigations. This “post-qualitative” literature calls for more attention to the ways in which language and discourses are co-emerging with, and co-constitutive of, the material, affective and non-representational qualities of experience. In line with this, I give special attention to the desiring and unconscious dimensions of energy use and everyday life more generally. Nonetheless, these are not conceptualised as subjective, interior or personal – but rather as trans-human flows that traverse and shape the (social) world. In this sense, focussing on desire is also a way to address the political and power-ridden aspects of energy use, little addressed in current research. Inspired above all by the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze (also with Félix Guattari), I look at the ways in which (collective) desire shapes the energy “assemblages” that we live through in ordinary life. If the dominant (libidinal) economy gears towards hyper-consumption and intensive energy practices, are molecular desires being mobilised that evade such hegemony? To what extent are they capable of a radical creation of more ecologically sensitive, life affirmative, assemblages? By taking advantage of the different affordances of multi-media representation of the field, in my thesis I map contemporary everyday energy assemblages as they are territorialised and deterritorialised along lines of (ecological) becoming. I bring attention not only to the chances, but also to the risks and contradictions of emerging “lines of flight” from our unsustainable economy. This critical reflection is also applied to the theory informing my own study and its potential pitfalls. Finally, I reflect on the politics and ethics of social sciences in participating to draw lines of transitions towards sustainability.

Funding source

ESRC DTC Wales

Karen Henwood

Professor Karen Henwood

Professor of Social Sciences

Bella Dicks

Professor Bella Dicks

Professor in Sociology

2018

2017

2016

Areas of expertise

External profiles