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Energy poverty and gender in England: A spatial perspective

Description

A growing research agenda has sought to understand the substantial inequalities that exist in domestic energy provision. One way in which these inequalities are shaped is through socio-spatially contingent gender relations, an area underexplored with regards to energy poverty. This paper aims to uncover the spatialities of gender and energy poverty. It argues that established energy vulnerability frameworks can challenge the assumption that gender inequality is synonymous with energy poverty, but to do so these framings must move beyond a focus upon the household to recognise the vulnerability of individuals. Gendered vulnerabilities likely to enhance energy poverty are delineated for a case study of England, underpinned by socio-spatial analyses of gender-sensitive indicators. Five dimensions of gendered, socio-spatial energy vulnerability are evidenced in this context: exclusion from the economy; time-consuming and unpaid reproductive, caring or domestic roles; exposure to physiological and mental health impacts; a lack of social protection during a life course; and coping and helping others to cope. The findings demonstrate that whilst it is possible to draw initial conclusions about the spatialities of gendered energy vulnerability associated with health and economic activity, this is more complex concerning gendered aspects of energy vulnerability related to infrastructure that tend to be measured at the scale of the household, or those aspects of vulnerability that are relatively private or personal.