In the first phase of Treasure ethnographic research, we focused on car-centered industry events as pools for informants, who were interviewed on the topics under study.
Specifically, the study design centered around ethnographic interviews to help us map the conceptual space around circular economy and sustainability practices in the electric car sector. Jos, a native German-speaking researcher conducted structured interviews at 5 car industry events, all located in Germany (Ulm Technorama, Frankfurter Automobil Ausstellung (FAA), Audi Meeting Krefeld, Allstedt Cars Meet Photographers and TopCareerStuttgart2022).
The plan for the next stage of the project is to continue our ethnographic inquiry into the conceptual space where circular economy/ sustainability practices intersect with the electric car sector, but from the converse direction. Rather than targeting car industry events and interviewing participants in an attempt to understand their position on sustainable practices (broadly), in this next phase of the project we will target sustainability-focused events and interview participants there about the ways in which their interest and commitment to sustainability informs their practices and aspirations as car owners or car users.
The methodological rationale for this is two-fold:
- Initial research found that the term “circular economy” was not a commonly recognized or used one among our interviewees (even though they had thoughts and reflections about sustainability principles and prospects). Presumably, the term would be more often recognized and used at events where the self-selected attendees are primarily focused around issues of sustainability, rather than focused on cars. Because of the prevalence of cars in our society, it is likely that those informants would themselves have cars, have had cars in the past, or at the very least regularly use cars in rentals or car shares and are aware of the sustainability issues in the car sector, and the role of electronics in cars in sustainability considerations.
- Such a shift would be in the spirit of triangulation, which is “the practice of using multiple sources of data or multiple approaches to analyzing data to enhance the credibility of a research study. Originating in navigational and surveying contexts, triangulation aligns multiple perspectives and leads to a more comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of interest. (Hastings 2010).
Some keywords/topics we can use in selecting events of interest going forwards:
• Circular economy
• Smart Cities
• Climate Innovation
• Ecological Urbanism
• SUPs (Single Use Plastics – specifically alternatives to SUPs)
• Sustainable mobility
• Sustainability transition
Some organizations/events that have put on events in this past year that may be annual and possibilities for 2023