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This paper presents an interdisciplinary sociotechnical methodology for quantifying the value of demand side participation (DSP) in deferring network reinforcement. The methodology forecasts how many years load growth a section of network can accommodate before components exceed their standard rating. The approach identifies components within the network which are thermally vulnerable and uses power flow sensitivity factors to assess the value of applying real power reductions, through demand side participation, at different substations to relieve thermally constrained components. The third stage of the methodology socially characterises the load points. This is achieved by using socio-demographic data to map out the number and type of customers connected to each load point. This information is used to gauge the potential social acceptance of demand side participation schemes for different types of consumer. The final stage combines the power flow sensitivity factors, calculated in stage 2, with the social findings, calculated in stage 3, to calculate the optimum socio-technical solution. The methodology is illustrated by a case study that uses an existing rural distribution network in northern England.