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What is energy democracy? Connecting social science energy research and political theory.

van Veelen, Bregje and van der Horst, Dan (2018) 'What is energy democracy? Connecting social science energy research and political theory.', Energy research and social science., 46 . pp. 19-28.


In recent years the term ‘energy democracy’ has become increasingly popular, especially in the context of aspirations for a low-carbon transition that include wider socio-economic and political transformation. The emergence of ‘energy democracy’ is thus part of a broader trend in research and practice which has sought to foreground the ‘stuff’ of politics. Yet, unlike the more academically developed concepts of energy justice and energy citizenship, energy democracy is a concept that emerged largely from social movements. This has resulted in a body of literature with little connection to established academic debates and theories. The growing popularity of the concept calls for a critical evaluation of the term and how it is used. By reviewing existing energy democracy publications and bringing these in conversations with more theoretical literature, we are seeking to address four issues; the rationale for pursuing energy democracy, the people and stakeholders involved and excluded, the proposed material focus of energy democracy, and the geographical focus of energy democracy. In the subsequent discussion we draw connections between energy democracy, the growing body of social science energy research and political theory, and identify avenues for further research.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
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Publisher statement:© 2018 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:11 June 2018
Date deposited:14 June 2018
Date of first online publication:20 June 2018
Date first made open access:20 June 2019

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