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Energy systems in transition: contributions from social sciences

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The aim of this paper is to discuss the potential role of social sciences ? especially social studies of technology and innovation studies ? for our understanding of energy provision and consumption. Energy systems are best understood as socio-technical arrangements with a strong interrelation of technological and social elements such as institutions, regulations, cultural values, social practices as well as interests, expectations and relationships of the actors involved. Such a perspective also gives us a better grasp of the ongoing dynamics of energy system transformation and stimulates new approaches to the governance of transition processes towards sustainability. Contributions of social sciences can support the understanding and shaping of energy transitions in an analytic, projective and reflexive dimension.

Keywords: energy systems, governance, scenario building, social study of technology, socio-technical experiments, socio-technical systems, sustainability, transition management, social sciences, innovation, energy provision, energy consumption, sustainability, sustainable development

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