Energy Transition Scales and Systems Questions


DEUTERO: What conceptual apparatuses and habits, modes of collectivity and economy scaffold (or undercut) reflexive reconsideration of how this site’s energy system is being thought and talked about?

META: How are energy transition imaginaries—motivations, rationalities, methods, means, scales, etc.—being expressed, deliberated, and debated in this setting? What new forms of expression have these discourses engendered?

MACRO:  What economic activities and interests have and continue to shape energy transition planning and practice in this setting? How does energy transition factor into the way future economies are being imagined and planned? What laws and policy have addressed energy production, distribution, and consumption? How do scales of nested sovereignties (federal, state, county, municipal, district, neighborhood) intersect, overlap, and resist each other?

MESO: What forms of political and community organization have been developed in order to plan and manage this site’s energy system and energy transition? How do these organizations relate to each other (i.e. what kinds of coordination are in play and/or called for)?

MICRO: How is energy transition research, planning, and practice carried out (or resisted) at the quotidian level? How do these practices dovetail with other practices (like flood management, economic development, or urban renewal, for example)?

NANO: What thought styles, semiotic ideologies and phenomenologies are in play in imagining energy transition? What data, forms of analysis, and modes of expression are persuasive and consequential here?

BIO: How are bodies (human and non-human) in this setting differentially laced and burdened with the costs of this site’s current energy system and/or practices of energy transition? (How) Are these embodied inequalities naturalized, racialized, homogenized/masked/erased, and/or politicized?


EXDU: What roles have the different programs, levels, and institutions of education played in shaping how local stakeholders think about and practice energy transition? Who is imagining and planning energy transition in this setting, with what modes of expertise, cut by what vested interests?

DATA: How do various stakeholders understand the proper conduct for producing and interpreting data to develop a viable knowledge-base for planning, practicing, and managing a transition to carbon-free energy? What data infrastructures have been developed, are being developed, or are perceived as necessary? Who has access to these data and sense-making tools? How and what kind of data is being visualized, inscribed, authorized, disseminated, and mobilized to control energy transition?

TECHNO: What technology does this site’s current energy-system infrastructure consist of? How does it function, and dysfunction? How are different energy resources conceived of technologically? How are the technological problems presented by renewable energy differentially understood? What sorts of technologies are being researched, proposed, developed, and piloted as potential solutions? What sorts of energy-related problems are imagined to be in/solvable with or through the development of new technologies?

ECO-ATMO: What ecologies and ecosystems in this setting are depended on, protected, or compromised, and how is this recognized (or not)? How are climate change and other atmospheric currents stressing this site’s energy systems?

GEO: How has this site’s energy system marked, transmuted, destabilized and harmed this setting? How, where, and what kind of traces of this harm are being observed, recorded, mitigated/exacerbated?


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Contributed date

June 13, 2019 - 11:41am

Critical Commentary

This set of analytic questions is a variation of the Quotidian Anthropocene 12 scales and systems questions and can be used to interrogate energy transitions across study locations and generate data for productive site comparison.


James Adams

Cite as

James Adams, "Energy Transition Scales and Systems Questions", contributed by James Adams, Disaster STS Network, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 26 January 2020, accessed 27 June 2022.