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Sociotechnical Matters: Reviewing and Integrating Science and Technology Studies with Energy Social Science

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Document pages: 17 pages

Abstract: Theoretical frameworks associated with science and technology studies (STS) are becoming increasingly prominent in social science energy research, but what do they offer? This review provides a brief history of relevant STS concepts and frameworks and a structured analysis of how STS perspectives are appearing in energy social science research and how energy-related research is appearing in social science STS. Drawing from an initial body of 262 journal articles and books with a stratified sample of 68 published from 2009 to mid-2019, the review identifies four major groups of perspectives: (1) STS-related cultural analysis, especially the study of sociotechnical imaginaries; (2) STS-related policy analysis, such as research on the social construction of risks and standards and on the performativity of economic models; (3) STS perspectives on public participation processes, expert-public relations, and mobilized publics; and (4) the study of sociotechnical systems, including large technological systems, the politics of design, and users and actor-networks. Connections among the perspectives and the value for energy social science research are also critically discussed.

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