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Ecologies of participation in socio-technical change: The case of energy system transitions

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Abstract

Studies of societal engagement with socio-technical change are undergoing a systemic turn. Rather than simply viewing public engagement in science, policy and behavioural change in terms of discrete cases, key social theories in deliberative democracy, practice theory, socio-technical transitions and co-productionist scholarship in science and technology studies (STS) are moving to consider how diverse forms of participation interrelate in wider systems. In this paper we take stock of these advances to develop a conceptual framework for understanding ecologies of participation in socio-technical and democratic systems, grounded in relational co-productionist theory in STS. The framework is illustrated through empirical analysis of a systematic mapping of participation in UK energy system transitions between 2010 and 2015. This provides the first insights into system-wide patternings, diversities and inequalities of energy participation, the significant types of interrelation between practices of public engagement within wider ecologies of participation, and their mutual construction with political cultures and constitutions. The value and implications of adopting an ecologies of participation approach are considered with respect to the theoretical, empirical and practical challenges of understanding and building more inclusive, responsible and just socio-technical (energy) transitions.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-210
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Volume42
Early online date10 Apr 2018
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018
Peer-reviewedYes

Keywords

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  • Public engagement, Ecologies of participation, Energy transitions, Relational, Systemic, STS co-productionist theory

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