Sociotechnical Agendas: Reviewing Future Directions for Energy and Climate Research

Energy Research & Social Science 70 (2020) 101617

35 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021

See all articles by Benjamin K. Sovacool

Benjamin K. Sovacool

Science Policy Research Unit; Department of Business Technology & Development

Andy Stirling

University of Sussex

Frank Geels

University of Manchester

Johan Schot

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU)

David J. Hess

Vanderbilt University

Richard Hirsh

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Jennie Stephens

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: December 1, 2020

Abstract

The field of science and technology studies (STS) has introduced and developed a “sociotechnical” perspective that has been taken up by many disciplines and areas of inquiry. The aims and objectives of this study are threefold: to interrogate which sociotechnical concepts or tools from STS are useful at better understanding energy-related social science, to reflect on prominent themes and topics within those approaches, and to identify current research gaps and directions for the future. To do so, the study builds on a companion project, a systematic analysis of 262 articles published from 2009 to mid-2019 that categorized and reviewed sociotechnical perspectives in energy social science. It identifies future research directions by employing the method of “cocreation” based on the reflections of sixteen prominent researchers in the field in late 2019 and early 2020. Drawing from this co-created synthesis, this study first identifies three main areas of sociotechnical perspectives in energy research (sociotechnical systems, policy, and expertise and publics) with 15 topics and 39 subareas. The study then identifies five main themes for the future development of sociotechnical perspectives in energy research: conditions of systematic change; embedded agency; justice, power, identity and politics; imaginaries and discourses; and public engagement and governance. It also points to the recognized need for pluralism and parallax: for research to show greater attention to demographic and geographical diversity; to stronger research designs; to greater theoretical triangulation; and to more transdisciplinary approaches.

Keywords: Science and technology studies, Sociotechnical systems, Science technology and society, Sociology of scientific knowledge, Sustainability transitions

Suggested Citation

Sovacool, Benjamin K. and Stirling, Andy and Geels, Frank and Schot, Johan and Hess, David J. and Hirsh, Richard and Stephens, Jennie, Sociotechnical Agendas: Reviewing Future Directions for Energy and Climate Research (December 1, 2020). Energy Research & Social Science 70 (2020) 101617, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3785911

Benjamin K. Sovacool (Contact Author)

Science Policy Research Unit ( email )

Falmer, Brighton BN1 9SL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/profiles/373957

Department of Business Technology & Development ( email )

Nordre Ringgade 1
Aarhus C, DK-8000
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://pure.au.dk/portal/en/persons/id(fca10105-c4eb-4f0f-99a7-a354a8a8a47a).html

Andy Stirling

University of Sussex ( email )

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

Frank Geels

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Johan Schot

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) ( email )

Mantell Building
Falmer
Brighton BN1 9RH UK, Sussex
United Kingdom

David J. Hess

Vanderbilt University

2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240
United States

Richard Hirsh

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University ( email )

250 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061
United States

Jennie Stephens

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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