4S session on sustainable transition efforts

"Strategies of Transition towards Green, Post Carbon Societies"

Deadline for abstract submission: April 1st, 2011

Convenors: Vivian A. Lagesen and Knut H. Sørensen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Sociotechnical systems like energy systems are often understood as stable and difficult to transform. Concepts used to describe such inertia and the challenges to pursuing change include technological momentum (Hughes 1987), path dependency (David 1985), lock-in (Arthur 1988) and entrapment (Walker 2000). Such concepts seem to aptly characterise present energy systems quite well, making the achievement of sustainable energy transitions appear an overwhelming challenge. There is a need not only for new sustainability-producing technologies but also for actors to engage productively with these technologies through distributed action. No single actor, including government, is able to manage the challenges on its own.

Transition is a conception of a whole-sector, multi-level process producing dramatic and lasting changes in production and consumption patterns and practices. It therefore requires complex multi-level governance; it is not just a matter of injecting single technological innovations and expecting them to take off. In this session, we shall address analytically the challenges related to understanding sustainable transition efforts, drawing broadly on STS scholarship. The emphasis is on sociotechnical institutions (understood at all levels) that need reforming and may act as obstacles to transition, providing entrenchment, lock-in, political resistance, economic obstacles, inadequate infrastructure, etc. The aim is to contribute to STS-based transition theory development that also improves the understanding of what sustains current unsustainable practices.

36th 4S Annual Meeting
Cleveland, OH
November 2-5, 2011
Deadline April 1, 2011

Co-located with the History of Science Society (HSS) and the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).

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