Immersed in thermal flows: Heat as productive of and produced by social practices

Elspeth Oppermann, Gordon Walker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


All social practices draw on and intervene in thermodynamic flows: hastening, retarding, redirecting, collecting, converting, or producing thermal energy. Excesses and deficits of heat help render these background flows sensorially conspicuous and materially compelling. We consider how to conceptualise heat in theories of social practice, arguing that rather than seeing heat as ‘an’ element of practice, it is better understood as a dynamic energy within which all practices are immersed. Heat then emerges as inherently both productive of and produced by practices, a conceptualisation which adds energetic-material relations to the array of ‘non-humans’ to be integrated into social practice theory. We explore such thermal flows through the social practices of outdoor manual workers in northern Australia’s tropical monsoon zone.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Practices and Dynamic Non-Humans
Subtitle of host publicationNature, Materials and Technologies
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783319921891
ISBN (Print)9783319921884
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2018


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