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The map is not the territory : a sympathetic critique of energy research’s spatial turn.

Bridge, G. (2018) 'The map is not the territory : a sympathetic critique of energy research’s spatial turn.', Energy research and social science., 36 . pp. 11-20.


Energy research in the social sciences has embarked on a ‘spatial adventure’ (Castán Broto and Baker, 2017). Those setting out on this journey have started from different disciplinary and theoretical locations, yet a “map” of sorts has begun to emerge. Made up of epistemological positions, conceptual vantage points and lines of enquiry, this map demarcates and structures the growing field of energy geography providing a more-or-less agreed guide to the territory. In the paper's first half I reflect on the scope and significance of the spatial turn in energy research. I describe the map now guiding much spatial research on energy, identifying core ideas around which spatially-sensitive social science energy research has come to cohere, notwithstanding its heterogeneity and internal diversity. I offer a supportive reading. In the second half, I offer a more critical reading of the adventure so far, arguing that it is unnecessarily limited in its reading of space. The full potential of a spatial perspective for social science research on energy has yet to be realised. I outline three pathways for realising some of this potential – geographies of knowledge production, differentiation and disassembly – and show how each takes energy research's spatial adventure in new directions.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
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Publisher statement:© 2017 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:22 September 2017
Date deposited:11 December 2018
Date of first online publication:16 October 2017
Date first made open access:11 December 2018

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