Degree completed in 2017.

Fluid capitalism at the bottom of the pyramid: a study of the off-grid solar power market in Uttar Pradesh, India

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Academic Profile

Jonathan is a DPhil student within the School of Geography and the Environment. He holds a BA degree in Geography from the University of Cambridge; and an MSc in Nature Society and Environmental Policy (with Distinction), from the University of Oxford. His current interests focus on state, society and market relations in contemporary India, development and environmental sustainability. His DPhil work explores this focus through a case study of the developing off-grid solar power sector in North India. Jonathan is supported by a joint ESRC/ St. John's College scholarship award.

Awards

  • 2011 - Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Studentship (1+3)
  • 2012 - St John's College, Oxford University Scholarship Award (3 years)

Current Research

Jonathan's doctoral research is concerned with the developing off-grid solar sector in India, with a focus on the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Over the past ten years the Indian off-grid industry has entered a new phase of more commercially oriented development. A proliferation of new companies are now expanding, experimenting with, and building on various sales and service business models that seek to supply lighting and electricity to low-income communities. These range from entirely commercial operations to NGO linked projects. The result is the creation of a market of low cost solar products and services said to be the best option for places and people that remain reliant on kerosene with little or no access to mains electricity.

Jonathan's work explores the way in which off-grid solar companies are developing everyday operations within Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. He is interested in the way in which day-to-day operations in this new and growing industry are engaging with state, society and market relations in communities and local economies. In particular, he is looking at the extent to which, if at all, the development of such operations are affected and shaped by the role of the state and subsidies, by brokerage systems, by structural inequalities, and by environmental involvement in the sector. The methodology draws upon qualitative and ethnographic approaches from Geography. It involves a case study approach that uses in-depth interviews and participant observation.