Chapter 1: Introduction to Research Handbook on Energy and Society: why study energy and society?
Full access

Mitigating and adapting to the climate crisis needs social science insights about the damage to future prospects of life on Earth caused by industrialised, consumer societies, and the necessity for societal transformation. Social studies of energy examine a wide range of questions, including the precursors to the crisis, grounded in intensive exploitation of fossil fuels and depletion of natural resources; ongoing interactions between technological and societal systems; social justice, stratification and inequalities; public attitudes and political processes; and how governance, regulatory and market institutions shape change. This introductory chapter reviews the main questions and disciplinary perspectives in energy and society research. It discusses the contributions of social science to engaging the public and policy makers in debate about our future energy systems and implications for ways of life. The chapter concludes by outlining the rationale of the Handbook, its themes and structure.