Archives mensuelles : novembre 2019

“Transition stakes and scales. Dissenting arguments and conflicting prospects in French and German energy debates and practices”

Workshop organized by the ANR/DFG collaborative program EnergiCorpus on October 25 and 26, 2019 at Augsburg University

This transdisciplinary and transnational event was part of a French-German research project on energy transitions led by Prof. Dr. Reiner Keller (chair of sociology at Augsburg university) and Dr. Francis Chateauraynaud (directeur d’études at EHESS Paris). It gathered French and German scholars around such research interests as the dynamics of ecological movements and the impact of local demonstrations on national energy politics. Among other topics, we discussed the (re)configuration of national narratives alongside whistle-blowings and surveys circulating from initiated arenas (i.e. expert arenas) to uninitiated arenas (media for instance). But complementary aspects like power relations between lobbies and citizen coalitions in energy conflicts were also tackled, as well as the legitimation of various arguments (sociotechnical, political, social, etc.) through key actors.

Battles around energy

Introduced by the two project coordinators, this English-speaking event firstly reminded major country-specific debates and turning points affecting national energy mixes.

  • In that vein, Panel 1 focused on local coalitions, with geothermal case studies conducted by Philippe Chavot in Alsace and a comparative analysis of Berlin and Jena citizen energy cooperatives by Thomas Blanchet.
  • Then, Panel 2 was dedicated to controversies on wind energy, with a focus on French controversial windfarms by Stéphanie Dechézelles and a cross-case comparison in the Greater Region SaarLorLux (Germany, France, Luxembourg) by Florian Weber.
  • Investigating beliefs and representations, Panel 3 gathered a multiscale analysis of nuclear energy production by Teva Meyer, targeting French and German nuclear industries, and a comparative analysis of energy transition beliefs by Meike Löhr, targeting Danish, German and French advocacy coalitions.
  • Last but not least, Panel 4 brought us back to national trajectories, from the stakes and scales of the EnergiCorpus Project itself, presented by Josquin Debaz, Martin Denoun and Bastien Fond, to conclusive considerations by Stefan Aykut on institutional change and path dependence in France and Germany.
  • Finally, a roundtable discussion hosted by Reiner Keller and Francis Chateauraynaud enthusiastically paved the way to corpus sharing and open research in the field of energy studies.

Under the above-mentioned aspects of major challenges such as the French and German energy transitions, it indeed appeared as crucial that we share as many research prospects and outcomes as we can if we want to compare policies, trace out debates, explore controversies and give a better understanding to citizen initiatives. In order to further reconstruct the conflictual nature of transitions and to develop relevant actor typologies as well as heuristic tools for a systematic investigation of energy discourses, merging approaches and corpora proves to be critical.

NB: other contributions related to this binational collaborative work will be published on this research blog in the years to come, either in French, in German or in English.

This report was written by Reiner KELLER & Bastien FOND