For over 30 years now, EDF's R&D has been deciphering the complex relations between the EDF Group and its environment. Its researchers in human and social sciences, like Sylvie Douzou, fuel the EDF business lines with their expertise, by addressing a complex and long-under-appreciated field of research, namely the sociology of energy.
Your vision on the sociology of energy demand? This is a relatively recent field of research in comparison with “historical” fields of energy research traditionally focused on the engineering of power generation and grids infrastructure or technological offers. The emergence of the issue of energy transition in the international public debate has largely contributed to turn it into a must in terms of research priorities. The field is complex, multidisciplinary and with a variable geometry, demanding a cross-focused observations: environment, housing mobility, city, communities and territories, consumption, innovation/technology... all being legitimate points of entries that required to be put in perspective and connected in order to “invent” a new research field: the sociology of energy.
Your next challenge...? We constantly strive to fine-tune our understanding of social mechanisms, in an effort to better analyse and anticipate the “future” energy demand, its dynamics and underlying rationales. To this purpose, we are currently exploring the link between activities and social practices on different scales of time and space, and areas of daily life. This leads us to imagine new analytical methodologies and conceptual tools. In this respect, our issues are relatively similar to the research of our colleagues working on complex systems modelling. We actually contribute to enrich their own reflexion, while providing a complementary and unique knowledge, an angle of understanding sometimes regarded as excessively bold, but essential. The challenge is to never forget the fundamentals of sociology, to be willing to take risks in order to innovate!
Tell us about the originality of your career path In my career, I alternated between education and research in the academic world, with periods more directly focused on action in the private sector, and time devoted to research, management and scientific coordination of research teams at EDF. I began my career as a teaching researcher in Quebec, a particularly inventive cultural melting pot, which gave me some scientific advance on the sociology of uses and innovation,, and on the relations between technology and society.
"We constantly strive to fine-tune our understanding of social mechanisms, in an effort to better analyse and anticipate the “future” energy demand".
Senior Researcher and co-Director of British research centre DEMAND*, headed by the University of Lancaster and combining a dozen partners
Scientific leader of EDDC** multidisciplinary research programme at ECLEER***
EDF's R&D: Leader of GRETS research group (Groupe de Recherche Énergie- Technologie-Société)
Valoris Group, Director of Research and Missions; Consultant in strategy, organisation and innovation
*DEMAND: Dynamics of Energy, Mobility ANd Demand
**EDDC: Energy Demand and Dynamics of Consumption
***ECLEER: European Centre & Labs on Energy Efficiency Research