Beyond instrumentalism: Broadening the understanding of social innovation in socio-technical energy systems

Wittmayer, Julia M. and de Geus, Tessa and Pel, Bonno and Avelino, Flor and Hielscher, Sabine and Hoppe, Thomas and Mühlemeier, Susan and Stasik, Agata and Oxenaar, Sem and Rogge, Karoline S. and Visser, Vivian and Marín-González, Esther and Ooms, Merel and Buitelaar, Saskia and Foulds, Chris and Petrick, Kristian and Klarwein, Salvador and Krupnik, Seweryn and de Vries, Gerdien and Wagner, Aleksandra and Härtwig, Anja (2020) Beyond instrumentalism: Broadening the understanding of social innovation in socio-technical energy systems. Energy Research & Social Science, 70. p. 101689. ISSN 2214-6296

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Social innovation is an important dimension of current transformations in energy systems. It can refer to alternative business models, novel policy instruments, financing schemes, participatory governance approaches to energy questions, or new discourses. Its significance for energy systems is often considered in narrow instrumentalist terms, reducing it to a tool serving particular policy objectives. Grounding the concept in social science and humanities insights, this review essay proposes a broadened social innovation understanding. We propose 1) to open up the normative complexity of the concept; 2) to appreciate the multi-actor nature of social innovation; 3) to understand it as an analytical entry point for socio-material intertwinement; and, 4) to understand social innovation as premised on experimentalism-based intervention logics. The proposed social innovation understandings provide a broader imagination and strategizing of structural changes in energy systems.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Social innovation, Energy transition, Normativity, Multi-actor perspective, Transformative governance, Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH)
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2020 11:25
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:52

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