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Understanding the missing middlemen of domestic heating: Installers as a community of professional practice in the United Kingdom

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-47
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Early online date7 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


Despite indications that they could play an important part in shaping how people heat their homes, central heating installers have been largely overlooked in energy research. As a means of addressing this oversight, this paper draws on a British ethnographic study to explore the ways in which these ‘missing middlemen’ can be said to comprise a ‘community of practice’. Two aspects of community membership are explored in detail: social learning processes and shared identities. This exercise shows how socially acquired understandings of their professional role and their relationship with homeowners can influence the selection and installation of heating products. The paper concludes with suggestions for how industry and policy makers might engage with this group. These suggestions focus on strategies aimed at reducing the energy used for home heating, and the installation of alternative heating technologies, both of which might benefit from an appreciation of the informal processes of community formation.

    Research areas

  • Heating installers, Intermediaries, Qualitative research, Communities of practice

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