Socio-Technical Energy Systems: Configurations That Work Better for Some




gender, energy, STS; power; user


The political character of the energy transition requires a fine-grained perspective on the power games occurring to bring it about. There are approaches specifically geared towards calling out the identity-based inequalities in such social processes termed as grand challenges, and then there are those specialised in studying the role of technology in the energy system and how actors in that system interact with these technologies. Feminist social scientists have highlighted the entanglements of intersectionality with technology in general and energy more specifically. At the same time, the literature on Science and Technology Studies (STS) emphasizes a social dimension, e.g., how technology is co-constructed by societal actors or how large technical systems structure our daily lives. Of relevance for feminist social scientists, STS approaches are well-positioned to analyse how technology creates, re-enacts, or mirrors power asymmetries. STS approaches understand technologies as socio-technical systems that inadvertently incorporate societal realities in production and consumption which allows an analysis of the covert seats of power in socio-technical systems. Similarly, energy systems have been a popular research object in STS due to their large-scale, often high-tech character, especially when considering modern energy technologies. Regardless of the common scope of intersectionality and STS regarding power asymmetries, there is still significant room for “hybridization” of these approaches. Although the energy domain has seen efforts being made with the development of notions such as energy poverty, energy justice, or energy democracy, the hybridization effort with STS has not been taken further significantly. This paper, we contributes to the hybridization of the STS and intersectionality lenses.