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Democratic engagements enacted in and by energy transitions 
Sampsa Hyysalo (Aalto University)
Gisle Solbu (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
Thomas Berker (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
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Marianne Ryghaug (Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology)
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Energy transitions enact new forms of democratic engagements into being. Direct material engagements with new technologies, physical and digital communities, social movements, new concerns in existing institutions and various policy experiments (etc) merit empirical and theoretical attention.

Long Abstract:

The dominant portrayal of energy transitions as a matter of technological fixes to environmental problems, paired with questions of social acceptability is very partial, at best. These wide and long sociotechnical processes enact new forms of democratic engagements into being. Some of these enactments emerge in response to issues that form publics such as those in climate change activism. Others are less conspicuous such as the many direct material engagements with low carbon technologies at homes, neighborhoods as well as in citizen involvement in local and digital energy communities. Yet other enactments emerge as new concerns and collaborations in existing institutions of representative democracy such as municipal councils. As important are the policy experiments towards new modes of democratic governance and knowledge coproduction in steering transitions, and the ways to understand them more adequately. Examining this expanded scope of democratic engagement in energy transitions is timely. Energy transitions have progressed profoundly during the last decade and most of the key technologies have matured and taken up in high numbers, yet this has also meant that the ‘low hanging fruits’ have already been collected regarding adopter segments, siting locations and financing of the low carbon solutions. The themes relevant to the panel include

– Citizen involvement and/or democratic engagement that become enacted and not enacted in energy transitions

– Affective modes of participation: the role of anger, frustration, and fear in citizen involvement

– The dark side of citizen involvement: tokenism, populism, and conspiracy theories

– The interrelations of different modes of democratic engagements in sociotechnical change

– The crowding-out, suppressing or silencing of democratic enactments in low carbon transitions

– Theories of citizen participation in the context of energy transitions

– Experiments towards democratic governance and knowledge coproduction

– Positioning of S&TS researchers amidst democratic engagements

Accepted papers:

Session 1
Session 2
Session 3