Conceptualizing energy democracy using the multiple streams framework: Actors, public participation, and scale in energy transitions

N. Goyal, Michael Howlett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientific


Energy democracy is an emergent movement for bringing about technological innovation with concomitant economic, social, and political change in the energy system, one that promises a just transition to clean and affordable energy. To examine whether and how the promise of energy democracy can be fulfilled, however, more clarity on the concept is necessary. In this chapter, we conceptualize energy democracy using a four-stream variant of the multiple streams framework. From this perspective, sustainability transitions and, by extension, energy transitions can be viewed as multilevel, multiactor processes requiring not only technological innovation but also problem framing, policy alternatives’ specification, and political advocacy. The actors primarily responsible for these transition processes are technology constituencies, epistemic communities, instrument constituencies, and advocacy coalitions, respectively. Energy democracy can be conceived as public participation in these activities during transition processes. Further, as this conceptualization can be operationalized at every scale, the cross-scalar nature of energy transitions—and energy democracy—can be analyzed by modeling the influence of transition processes in one setting on the streams in another setting. The proposed framework furthers inquiry into energy democracy through examination of the what, the how, and the where of democratization in society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Energy Democracy
EditorsAndrea M. Feldpausch-Parker, Danielle Endres, Tarla Rai Peterson, Stephanie L. Gomez
PublisherRoutledge - Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780429402302
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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