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Navigating the intersections between Just Transitions and STS: experiences from the field 
Tessa Boumans (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Darren McCauley
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Darren McCauley
Tessa Boumans (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

We explore the intersection between STS and the ‘Just Transition Framework’ (JT). JT has been primarily confined to the energy transition, yet can be mutually useful for STS. We explore JT in different contexts, and therefore encourage a more inclusive, justice-driven sustainable transition debate.

Long Abstract:

The purpose of this panel is to explore the intersection of two academic domains that hold the promise of shaping our future - Just Transition Theory (JT) and STS.

The word ‘justice’ can often be politicized in societal debates and used in a negative way to undermine justice debates (Sobande et al., 2022). However, scholars should remain aware that justice theories are thoroughly based in a wide range of socio-political academic fields. These fundamentals of justice theories can help to depolarize societal debates and at the same time guide a more sustainable and fair transition.

So far, JT debates have been mostly held in the domain of the global energy transition (McCauley and Pettigrew 2023, Sravan and Mirsha 2023, Thapa et al. 2023, Weitzel et al. 2023), assessing and promoting “fairness and equity throughout the transition away from fossil fuels." However, the importance of justice is not confined to the field of energy policy, economics, and law.

In the field of STS and transitions, the importance of justice is ever-present but under-explored. For example, Jasanoff & Kim's (2015) concept of socio-technical imaginaries explores the notion of 'desirable futures'. From a JT perspective, claims about what constitutes a “desirable” social transition opens up new lines of justice enquiry.

STS as a field is yet to fully explore structural inequities such as ageism, ableism, heteronormativity, racism, colonialism, and classism - and the intersections of these domains. For this panel, we explore how to merge these works in a robust, context-sensitive JT framework. This effort is a call for inclusivity, one where technology serves human development in a more profound way, now and in the future. Critical theoretical reflections and empirical contributions for this panel are therefore welcome on the intersections between justice, structural inequities and technologies.

Accepted papers:

Session 1