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Of emergence, diffusion and impact: A socio-technical perspective on researching energy demand

07 December, 2018

Of emergence, diffusion and impact: A socio-technical perspective on researching energy demand

Benjamin K. Sovacool

Steven Robert Sorrell

Research paper   Digital Society

Frank W. Geels, Benjamin K. Sovacool and Steve Sorrell

Summary

From a sociotechnical perspective, improving energy efficiency and reducing energy demand are understood as social processes with complex interactions between multiple actors (firms, researchers, policymakers, consumers) who develop strategies, make investments, learn, open up new markets and develop new routines. A sociotechnical perspective views energy services as being provided through large-scale, capital-intensive and long-lived infrastructures that co-evolve with technologies, institutions, skills, knowledge and behaviours to create broader ‘sociotechnical systems’. This chapter develops a rationale for the sociotechnical approach, describes its general characteristics and identifies some core research debates. It elaborates upon three research themes – emergence, diffusion and impact – and identifies key issues and debates within each.

Publication details

Geels, F., Sorrell, S. and Sovacool, B. (2019) Of emergence, diffusion and impact: A socio-technical perspective on researching energy demand. In: Jenkins, K.E.H and Hopkins, D. (Eds.) Transitions in Energy Efficiency and Demand: The Emergence, Diffusion and Impact of Low-Carbon Innovation. Routledge, UK. pp.15–33.

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