Interactive shaping of expertise: The play between house-owner and sme contractors negotiating renovation
Paper in proceedings, 2019
Most of the single-family houses, which represent a large part of the existing building stock in Sweden, perform poorly when it comes to energy efficiency and sustainability. Nevertheless, during the renovation of these houses the focus is often directed towards comfort and design. Comfort concerns or not, the first encounter between the house-owner and the contractor in charge of the renovation is an occasion where energy efficiency solutions could be introduced. In the retrofit process the main partner and consultant is often a SME contractor. In principle the SME contractors' expertise on sustainable solutions could influence the house owners' choices regarding the improvements to be made. But it is unclear how this expertise manifests itself during the interaction, moreover the house owner is also claiming expertise on his/her own house. Building on Goffman micro-sociological concepts, this paper illustrates how the expertise is dynamically built during the interactions between the house owner and SME contractor. Goffman's approach enables us to view this interaction as a public performance where the two actors demonstrate, contest, challenge and finally accept the role of expert. Expertise is therefore something shaped during the interaction, rather than a given attribute. The empirical material consists of 18 observations between house-owner and SME contractor interactions as well as 16 workshops with contractors, mainly carpenters and electricians, interested in developing new approaches to retrofit. The results show how the expertise is negotiated and embodied and how these interactions are framing the content of the renovation.