The trouble of a medium-n study—and how I got out of it (part 2)

Not sure if this sign is irony or not.

Where the previous months were a drag in terms of book writing, the last two weeks have been pretty productive. I’ve managed to stick to the planned schedule of working on the book only in the mornings and work on other stuff in the afternoons (articles—at the end of the day I’m still writing non-stop, but at least it feels a little better). Already in Singapore I made some big decisions in terms of cutting down the number of cases—examples of voluntary programs for sustainable buildings—to discuss in the book, and this week I have decided to step away from looking at the Asian countries in it.

Cutting out the cases from India, Malaysia, and Singapore hurts a fair bit, but I realise that it doesn’t change the narrative I want to tell through the book—how voluntary programs may help accelerating a transition to a low-carbon built environment. The cases from India, Malaysia, and Singapore did not truly add anything new to the narrative and were raising more questions (about context predominantly) than that they provided answers.

So the book has again become leaner: It now only addresses voluntary programs for sustainable buildings in Australia, the Netherlands, and the United States, clustered in three dominant types—certification and classification programs, information generation and dissemination programs, and financing programs. This gets me closer, again, to what I originally thought that was possible with the data I’ve collected: A book that builds on the voluntary programs literature, but that mainly provides new empirical insights. I guess that will make the whole project of less interest to a big name university press, but so be it.

Again, the major take home lesson of all this is think carefully about whether or not to write a book out of a large scale research project upfront—and not at the end, as I did. I’m now down to discussing some 25+ examples of voluntary programs. That’s less than half of the number I studied. Of course, the other voluntary programs studied make for good material for journal articles, but I could have given myself a bit of an easier time over the last years had I put a little more thought about all this some years ago.

Hopefully this positive vibe continues over the next weeks…

One thought on “The trouble of a medium-n study—and how I got out of it (part 2)

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  1. What actor or actors are best positioned to stimulate a wider uptake of the available technology and social know how? The ultimate question lies in.. How can we reverse people’s propensity to fulfill their basic human need for happiness by the business economy fueled media generated from near birth consumption obsession? In the developed world, the average person watches over 40 hours of televison and is on FB which is also plagued by capitalism, advertisements (ads, persuassion, you name it, it’s there!) With enough time, from birth, you can convince most people of a lot!!! Altering images in ads to look like them, whatever. Tell them the economic outlook is great, skew statistics for climatic changes, do not report on television any events or change details that you’d rather the public not know about. Make the public less educated by changing what they learn in public schools. Hell, most of them will work at Wal-mart anyway. It is all hegemony. It is all about greed. Fuck the Earth. Fuck future generations. Let mankind go extinct. I want to make a difference and I am living as simply as I can which makes me happy. I don’t want to throw my hands up because I know how minute I am and how special the Earth must be in the scope of things. People are paid great deals of money on think tanks to come up with ways to change large amounts of people’s behavior to make them consume even more. It makes the rich even richer you see.

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