Placing technology : examining the emerging use of solar water heaters in Oaxaca, Mexico

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Shannon, Steven Jacob

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This study is an examination of the (broadly envisioned) process that has led to the emerging use of solar water heaters in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico. In 2007, Mexico launched a major policy initiative designed to encourage the use of solar water heaters in the residential sector throughout the country. As this policy has been implemented, over one hundred thousand solar water heaters have been installed on new homes and many people are beginning to encounter this technology for the first time. This policy has been successful in placing solar water heaters on the rooftops of new homes, but problems with how some of them are functioning threaten the long-term prospects of diffusion of the technology. The study shows that while solar water heaters have the potential to carry positive environmental and economic benefits at the household level, there are also many potential and actual scenarios in which the technology can have detrimental effects. Drawing on literature from the Diffusion of Innovations, the Social Construction of Technology, Actor-Network Theory, the Multi-Level Perspective on Technological Transitions, and Ecological Modernization Theory, this paper also seeks to contribute to the literature concerning the overall processes of socio-technical transitions.



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