Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Agenda

Utrecht Sustainability Lecture Benjamin Sovacool: "Theorizing theories: Agency, structure, and meaning in sociotechnical transitions "

Date: 12 October 2017
Time: 10:30 - 12:30
Location: Boothzaal, Heidelberglaan 3, 3584 CS Utrecht

What theories or concepts are most useful at explaining socio-technical change? How can – or cannot – these be integrated? This presentation begins by explaining its research terms and methods before honing in on a combination of fourteen theories deemed most relevant and useful by the material. These are: Sociotechnical Transitions, Social Practice Theory, Discourse Theory, Domestication Theory, Large Technical Systems, Social Construction of Technology, Sociotechnical Imaginaries, Actor-Network Theory, Social Justice Theory, Sociology of Expectation, Sustainable Development, Values Beliefs Norms Theory, Lifestyle Theory, and the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology. It then positions these theories in terms of two distinct typologies. Theories can be placed into five general categories of being centered on agency, structure, meaning, relations or norms. They can also be classified based on their assumptions and goals rooted in functionalism, interpretivism, humanism or conflict. The presentation lays out tips for research methodology before concluding with insights about technology itself, analytical processes associated with technology, and the framing and communication of results. An interdisciplinary theoretical and conceptual inventory has much to offer students, analysts, and even scholars wanting to study technological change and society.