Edited by Rafael Leal-Arcas and Jan Wouters
Chapter 21: Social science as a starting point?
Social science is underrepresented in the domain of energy policy. This chapter builds on social scientists’ criticisms of policy construction and delivery in the UK by exploring how energy policy that was formed on the basis of social science evidence might look. Drawing on experiences in the UK but with relevance to other EU member states, six perspectives are offered as a starting point for energy policy debates. Section 2 begins with a focus on energy efficiency, considering three distinct perspectives for achieving reductions in citizens’ energy demand: segmentation models, behavioural studies, and social practice theory. Section 3 then turns our attention to energy generation, focusing on what social science can tell us about policy development with regards to energy infrastructures and the placing of infrastructure projects, before discussing the sociotechnical transitions literature as a perspective through which to understand the whole energy system. The chapter concludes with some reflections on the steps that policymakers and researchers can take to ensure energy policy is better grounded in social science.
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