On March 21st and 22nd 2012, members of 3S are leading a workshop on actor dynamics in energy transitions as part of its role within the £2.3 million Transition Pathways to a low carbon economy project. Transitions Pathways is a 4-year consortium project involving nine UK universities co-funded by the EPSRC and E.ON. Bringing together engineers, economists, historians and social scientists the project has sought to develop and evaluate transition pathways for a 60% CO2 emissions reduction by 2050 focusing on the low carbon electricity system.
The Transition Pathways project is contributing to the growing body of work on sustainability transitions, which seeks to understand the evolution of complex, socio-technical systems. In part this field seeks to understand the sites and modes of intervention with a view to informing the purposive ‘steering’ of the system. This has led to questions emerging surrounding the democratic implications of such interventions and their governance. Such concerns also relate to the ‘narrow’ way in which actor dynamics are sometimes theorized within the transition literature.
In order to explore these issues, this 2 day workshop will seek to draw on insights from a range of social science perspectives to undertake a system wide exploration of the range, modes and sites of participation in low carbon transitions. It is intended that that it will make some substantive steps towards the development of a research agenda that takes seriously the theoretical, methodological and governance implications that are raised by engagement with wider conceptions of socio-technical participation.