Accepted Paper:

Political membership and energy transitions  


Govert Valkenburg (NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Paper long abstract:

Energy transitions are commonly understood as radical, systemic changes that render many elements obsolete, even though they are internal to the system. Because of the complete entrenchment of modern cultures with energy use, such transitions are deeply political. Yet, studies in energy transitions have hitherto built upon notoriously straightforward and unreflexive notions of 'politics', largely construed as some residual category where issues find recourse that cannot be solved along technical or technocratic terms. For example, the various ways of mobilizing energy provision include staging it as an object in need of securitization, as a fundamental right, as critical for the smooth operation of society, etc.. Energy thus becomes many different objects: not only political objects, but also objects of scientific inquiry, objects of engineering and construction, objects of consumption, and objects of cultural value. Importantly, it becomes an object that connects to particular political memberships. This paper discusses how below the surface, objects connected to 'energy transitions' in fact serve as a site of constructing categories such as the technical, the political and the natural. Each construction comes with a particular perspective on public relevance, and hence particular publics and their inclusion and exclusion from power. The paper will present work-in-progress at the conceptual as well as the empirical level.

Panel C2
Solidarity and plurality: Dimensions of 'the public' in scientific engagement