Humanizing sociotechnical transitions


Humanizing sociotechnical transitions through energy justice: An ethical framework for global transformative change

Article on humanizing sociotechnical transitions published by the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED). This article is written by Professor Benjamin Sovacool, Director, CIED, former CIED Research Fellow, Dr Kirsten Jenkins and Dr Darren McCauley, Senior Lecturer, University of St Andrews.

The paper calls for the integration of the energy justice framework into the so-called multi-level perspective (MLP), an approach often used to give an account of technological change and systems innovation over time. This approach identifies three levels: Read more…

Paper Highlights and Abstract

  • Sociotechnical transitions studies must better explore questions of ethics and justice.
  • Ethical considerations can be integrated at the niche, regime and landscape levels of analysis.
  • Accessibility, affordability, energy security and sustainable development must be more rigorously investigated.

Poverty, climate change and energy security demand awareness about the interlinkages between energy systems and social justice. Amidst these challenges, energy justice has emerged to conceptualize a world where all individuals, across all areas, have safe, affordable and sustainable energy that is, essentially, socially just. Simultaneously, new social and technological solutions to energy problems continually evolve, and interest in the concept of sociotechnical transitions has grown. However, an element often missing from such transitions frameworks is explicit engagement with energy justice frameworks. Despite the development of an embryonic set of literature around these themes, an obvious research gap has emerged: can energy justice and transitions frameworks be combined? This paper argues that they can. It does so through an exploration of the multi-level perspective on sociotechnical systems and an integration of energy justice at the model’s niche, regime and landscape level. It presents the argument that it is within the overarching process of sociotechnical change that issues of energy justice emerge. Here, inattention to social justice issues can cause injustices, whereas attention to them can provide a means to examine and potentially resolve them.

Download a full version of the paper on the ScienceDirect website.
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