Performing wave in policy and technoscience: developing an STS approach in the sociology of energy

Iskandarova, Marfuga and Simakova, Elena (2015) Performing wave in policy and technoscience: developing an STS approach in the sociology of energy. In: Second International Days of the Sociology of Energy: Contemporary Societies Faced with Energy Transitions; 1-3 Jul 2015, Tours, France. (Unpublished)


In this paper we explore, through the lens of Science and Technology Studies (STS), in what sense energy can be an object of sociological research. We draw on analysis of renewable energy sector in the UK to gain an understanding of how energy, in particular wave energy, becomes a policy category and an object of scientific inquiry and engineering practices. While admitting and even celebrating possibility of extracting energy from wave in economically viable ways, questions are rarely asked about how ‘wave’ is constructed as an energy resource in the first instance. By being singled out, or singularised, as in Callon et al (2002), converted into data and resource by means of calculation and measurement, inscribed into policy documents, wave becomes an actant constituting technological heterogeneity of renewable energy economies. But how exactly is wave credibly singularised in the renewable energy domain? What kind of representational means are mobilised in science and policy to talk about wave as a source of energy? We analyse wave and wave energy as a policy category and policy object and look at wave energy in scientific discourse. Considering wave as an object of expertise, we examine how measurements, statistical analysis, modelling and visualisation (as well as controversies around them) contribute to production of data used for assessment and legitimisation of wave energy developments. By looking at discourses and practices of utilisation of wave as a resource in the context of contemporary technological developments in the energy sector, we examine credibility-economy of renewable energy. The paper concludes with a discussion of how technoscientific understanding of wave, based on singularisation and abstraction, makes it a resource by virtue of practice, providing grounds for performing wave as a ‘good’ in future economic exchange.

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