Wind, power, and the situatedness of community engagement
Hyomin Kim (Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology)
Paper short abstract:
Jeju, an island and a co-terminus province in Korea, became a place to site wind turbines with a high level of public acceptance. We explicate how the interpretation of community engagement in Jeju enabled the imaginaries of a "good" society that can go along with materiality of wind energy.
Paper long abstract:
Jeju, an island and a co-terminus province in Korea, became a place to site wind turbines with an unusually high level of public acceptance. How did this island become a relatively stable place to site wind turbines? In analyzing the processes for constructing Jeju as a sociotechnical system for wind power, we focus on public acceptance formed through community engagement. It is doubtlessly important to inform, consult, and empower the local public through stages of decision-making to achieve more sustainable renewable energy governance. Yet we ask different questions. How does it become plausible for actors in this particular locality to take interest in community engagement and raise public acceptance of wind energy? Based on interviews, media analyses and policy research, we found that community engagement was combined with the collective memory of socioeconomic deprivation in Jeju. This combination enabled community engagement to matter to local actors—residents, the provincial government, and environmental activists. We also discuss that flexible interpretation of community engagement compatible with local residents' hope for economic development provided a space for the imaginaries of a "good" society in economic, aesthetic and moral senses. Drawing upon Jasanoff's notion of sociotechnical imaginaries we argue that Jeju's people's shared understandings of desirable futures were animated by publicly performed visions of social life attainable through advances in technoscience and its participatory governance. We emphasize that community engagement and acceptance of renewable energy do not have singularly given but multiple and situated ways of mattering configured within contexts.
- Encounters between people, things and environments