Social innovations in energy policy making (2016-2018)

Integrative social-science concepts of analyzing social innovations in energy policy making

Raising awareness of the unsustainable path on which societies and economies develop also triggers the emergence of alternative lifestyle concepts. At the core of this development is social innovation. Both the individual as well as the societal innovation processes might prove to be important factors in people’s willingness to adopt climate policies and to support international efforts in mitigation and assistance to adaptation. Yet, a pressing question is how fast and how broadly these new concepts are adopted. In order to make a difference to current societal and economic development, they have to reach the mainstream in a relatively short period of time.

In order to do so, this working group aims at fostering societal transformations in the energy domain through smart combinations of social and technical innovations after establishing a inter‐ and transdisciplinary network of relevant scientists and stakeholders and developing a sound transdisciplinary research perspective for future activities of the network. The working group makes two specifications for the use of the social innovation concept. One concerns the domain of innovation, in this case focusing on energy use. The second one regards the methodological challenges to capture and model innovation and diffusion.

Among others, following questions are to be dicussed:

  • How is social innovation conceptualized in different disciplines and how can different angles of research on innovation be brought together, e.g. with a transdisciplinary approach?
  • How are social innovations triggered? What societal constellations foster innovative ideas? Are societal innovations initiated by bottom‐up processes, by top‐down processes or by a combination of both?
  • How can transdisciplinary research help in scaling up social innovative behavior?
  • What can be learned from the field of energy use for other fields of consumption?
Working group members