Actors in transitions: narratives of roles and change in the German e-mobility transition

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  • Paul Upham
  • Lea Gathen

We apply an approach that theoretically connects processes at different scales within a sociotechnical sustainability transitions frame, focusing on individual actors. Drawing on interviews with actors involved in the electric mobility transition in Lower Saxony, Germany, we analyse actors’ narratives as revelatory of situated or ‘conjunctural’ knowledge, as viewed from a strong structuration perspective of sociotechnical change. The purpose is to shed a particular type of light on structure-agency processes. Strong structuration is an extended version of Giddens’ social theory that takes account of actors’ subjective experience of their situation, viewing this as both shaped by - and shaping of - structure, in the sense of rules that are internal and external to individuals. Here we show how actors’ narratives of their experiences and positions in the sociotechnical system reveal themes relevant to the on-going structuration electric vehicles in the case study region of Lower Saxony, Germany. We identify general ‘meta-narratives’ that span more than one individual, as well as personal narratives that are specific to individuals. In addition, the analytic value of narratives in transition literature is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Pages (from-to)450-460
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

    Research areas

  • E-mobility, Electric vehicles, Narratives, Sociotechnical transitions, Strong structuration
  • Management studies