Renewable energy and sociotechnical change: imagined subjectivities of 'the public' and their implications

Walker, Gordon and Cass, Noel and Burningham, Kate and Barnett, Julie (2010) Renewable energy and sociotechnical change: imagined subjectivities of 'the public' and their implications. Environment and Planning A, 42 (4). pp. 931-947. ISSN 0308-518X

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Abstract

'The public' are potentially implicated in processes of sociotechnical change as political actors who welcome or resist technology development in general, or in particular places and settings. We argue in this paper that the potential influence of public subjectivities on sociotechnical change is realised not only through moments of active participation and protest, but also through 'the public' being imagined, given agency, and invoked for various purposes by actors in technical industrial and policy networks. As a case study we explore the significance of an imagined and anticipated public subjectivity for the development of renewable energy technologies in the UK. We use interviews with a diversity of industry and policy actors to explore how imaginaries of the public are constructed from first-hand and mediated experience and knowledge, and the influence these imagined public subjectivitics may have on development trajectories and on actor strategics and activities. We show how the shared expectation of an ever present latent but conditional public hostility to renewable energy project development is seen as shaping the material forms of the technologies, their evolving spatiality, and practices of public engagement involved in obtaining project consent. Implications for the actors we are interested in and for broader questions of democratic practice are considered.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Environment and Planning A
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3305
Subjects:
ID Code:
52653
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
23 Feb 2012 14:15
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
03 Nov 2020 14:24