Revisiting recognition in energy justice

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Energy justice often distinguishes between different tenets, such as distributive, procedural and recognition justice. Recognition justice has a distinct status compared to the other two as its meaning seems the least tangible to grasp. In this article, a systematic literature study was conducted to the definitions and interpretations of recognition justice, showing that the concept currently refers to a large variety of phenomena. This diversity obscures what “recognition justice” actually measures. This paper aims to revisit the concept of recognition justice in energy justice by asking the following question: what does the tenet of recognition justice refer to, taking into account the philosophical roots of the concept? To do so, key texts from Axel Honneth and Nancy Fraser were studied in-depth, resulting in four main insights: (1) there are two approaches to recognition justice; (2) actors can be (mis)recognised in multiple ways; (3) two different yet complementary methods for identifying instances of misrecognition can be distinguished; and (4) recognition justice cannot be reduced to other tenets of justice. These findings cumulate in a revisited definition of recognition justice as concerned with the adequate recognition of all actors through love, law, and status order. This definition structures the large variety of understandings in the scholarship, and it has the potential to provide a more fine-grained explanation of energy controversies, which advances the ultimate aim of making energy systems and policies more just.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102764
Number of pages7
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Critical theory
  • Energy justice
  • Recognition justice


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