Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Breffni Lennon; Niall Dunphy
SENIX 2016
A Tale of Two Communities: Negotiation and Experience at the Interface of the Energy Transition
Stockholm, Sweden
Invited Lectures (Conference)
Optional Fields
This paper is a result of research that situates itself within European discourses on the identification of sustainable energy transition frameworks that will best facilitate the move to a low-carbon society. How local communities negotiate the many power dynamics associated with engaging in the energy system is explored from the perspective of two very different communities. One is situated in a predominantly rural area, while the other is in a largely urban setting. The communities face quite different challenges as they proceed with their energy-transition pathways. Success in meeting the challenges posed from finding a sustainable energy transition has been rather mixed to date, with an emphasis on top-down, technocratic solutions. This paper shifts the focus back to the human dimension of the energy transition and examines how individuals negotiate their way through the many (and sometimes hidden) competing landscapes of social and economic power that exist at the local level. Local people have generally been portrayed as passive consumers in this transition. This paper will demonstrate that, in fact, the reality can quite often be the opposite with local people occupying (re)active, participatory spaces for specific periods of time that can ultimately influence the success or failure of a given (supra)national policy. A number of scholars, especially Devine-Wright, have indicated that narratives at the local level are often informed by ideas of place attachment, which in turn can determine the intensity of place-protective actions to a perceived threat. However, there is no reason why these narratives cannot be informed by the opportunities that are also a result of the greater enmeshments of place and mobility in contemporary societies across the European Union. This paper will present the findings to date from research conducted as part of ENTRUST, an interdisciplinary H2020 research project exploring the human factor in the energy system.