Challenging formal arrangements and decision-making in the energy sector 
Shannon Spruit (Delft University of Technology)
Olivier Ejderyan (ETH Zurich)
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Conflict, dissolution, contest
Bowland Hall Main Room
Start time:
27 July, 2018 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel seeks to discuss on what grounds and how formal decision-making processes about energy projects and energy infrastructures get contested. It investigates how such contestations and their responses contribute to reconfiguring traditional conceptions of formal and informal decision-making.

Long Abstract

Planning and implementation of new energy technologies and infrastructures is often characterized by high levels of institutionalization and formalization. Such decisions are grounded in procedures and guidelines which are part of legally established governance structures that aim to evaluate the desirability of energy projects.

However, these structures and procedures do not always cover the wide range of meanings, concerns and values that an energy project puts at stake for different stakeholders. For instance, a strong techno-juridical focus on risks and safety in the formal assessment of energy projects may downplay other moral considerations.

Consequently, the legitimacy and adequacy of formal arrangements can be challenged. For instance, local activism may arise through which citizens confront the way values are expressed, made tangible and operationalized in the process. Governmental agencies may react to such challenges by either reasserting the primacy of formal decision-making channels or opening it up to the public.

On what grounds and how are formal decisions about energy technologies and infrastructures contested? How does this affect those engaged in controversies about them? Furthermore, contestation contributes to the blurring of boundaries between formal and informal forms of governance. How to understand the dynamic between formal and informal forms of governance?

To address these questions, we invite papers discussing:

-Practices of opposition to formal decision-making in energy (e.g. political, activist, epistemic struggles).

-Interactions between formal and informal forms of governance (and/or challenges to such a distinction).

-Citizen engagement, legal and regulatory experiments, and their relation to representative democracy.

Accepted papers: