Energy Vulnerability in the Grain of the City: Toward Neighborhood Typologies of Material Deprivation

Stefan Bouzarovski*, Harriet Thomson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
244 Downloads (Pure)


Geographers are increasingly engaging with the driving forces and implications of energy poverty—a specific but relatively unknown form of material deprivation that emerges at the nexus of sociodemographic inequalities and built formations. In this article, we argue that an improved understanding of the urban embeddedness of energy poverty can provide novel insights into the systemic underpinnings of injustice. We thus develop a conceptual framework focusing on the links between the sociodemographic and housing vulnerabilities to energy poverty on the one hand and wider patterns of urban social inequality on the other. This approach is applied to the study of several postcommunist cities in eastern and central Europe (ECE), where energy poverty has expanded rapidly over the past two decades. Using evidence from extensive custom-built neighborhood surveys, we interrogate the sociodemographic, housing, and infrastructural features of households that experience a lack of adequate domestic energy services. Our results point to the existence of distinct landscapes and typologies of energy vulnerability in the urban fabric. Material deprivation—a phenomenon that has rarely been studied in infrastructural terms—creates new sociospatial inequalities that might supplant patterns and processes of intraurban differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-717
Number of pages23
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number3
Early online date14 Nov 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Nov 2017


  • Housing
  • segregation
  • central and eastern Europe
  • energy justice
  • energy poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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