Hogeschool van Amsterdam

Amsterdam Research Institute for Societal Innovation

Shaping energy norms in digital communities

the contribution of online discussion boards to questioning energy needs in Amsterdam


Reducing energy consumption in urban households is essential for reaching the necessary climate research and policy targets for CO2 reduction and sustainability. The dominant approach has been to invest in technological innovations that increase household energy efficiency. This article moves beyond this approach, first by emphasising the need to prioritise reducing energy demand over increasing energy efficiency and, second, by addressing the challenge of energy consumption at the level of the community, not the individual household. It argues that energy consumption is shaped in and by social communities, which construct consciousness of the energy implications of lifestyle choices. By analysing a specific type of community, a digital community, it looks at the role that communication on online discussion boards plays in the social process of questioning energy needs and shaping a “decent lifestyle”. The article explores three social processes of community interaction around energy practices – coercive, mimetic, and normative – questioning the ways in which they contribute to the activation of energy discursive consciousness. In conclusion, the article reflects on the potential implications of these social processes for future research and interventions aimed at reducing energy demand. To illustrate how the three selected social processes influence one another, the article builds on the results of a research project conducted in Amsterdam, analysing the potential contribution of online discussion boards in shaping energy norms in the Sustainable Community of Amsterdam Facebook group.

Reference Pineda Revilla, B. (2020). Shaping energy norms in digital communities: the contribution of online discussion boards to questioning energy needs in Amsterdam. Energy Research & Social Science, 67, [101586]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2020.101586
Published by  ARISI 1 September 2020

Publication date

Sep 2020

Research database