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Message posted on 31/10/2019

7th /8th May 2020 Berlin CfA: Implications of different ‚Imaginary‘ concepts for energy futures: Interdisciplinary gains or quarrels?

Call for abstracts (Session 7): Implications of different ‚Imaginary‘
concepts for
energy futures: Interdisciplinary gains or quarrels?

Conference "Energy Futures - Emerging Pathways in an Uncertain World

Date: 7th /8th May 2020 Berlin

Venue: WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Reichpietschufer 50, 10785 Berlin

Organization: Leibniz Research Alliance on Energy Transitions

"Implications of different ‚Imaginary‘ concepts for
energy futures: Interdisciplinary gains or quarrels?"

‘Imaginary’ concepts have become central frameworks for different fields
of research like sociology, sustainability research and science and
technology studies, leading to various definitions of the word
‘Imaginary’. In this session, we are looking for productive interplays
of multifarious theoretical and disciplinary perspectives with regards
to ‘Imaginary’ concepts for energy futures. Deploying imaginary concepts
in research on energy futures can provide fruitful knowledge and an
increased understanding of technological, societal and economic
interactions when it comes to energy transition(s).

The concept of ‘imaginaries’ gained greater attention in social science
in the 1950’s. Some influential approaches in social sciences were put
forward by Castoriadis (1997) and Taylor (2007). The concept of
‘sociotechnical imaginaries’ by Sheila Jasanoff and Sang-Hyun Kim’s
(2013) explores national identities and national level science and
technology projects. The role of competing imaginaries in shaping
climate policy is explored by Levy and Spicer (2013). For these authors
imaginaries provide a shared sense of meaning, coherence and orientation
around highly complex and global issues. Grunwald (2011) investigates
concepts and approaches for scrutinizing, comparing and assessing
various energy futures from an epistemological point of view. These are
only some of the prevailing ‘Imaginary’ concepts of this growing
theoretical field.

On the one hand, this session wants to create a brief overview of these
rich theoretical hinterlands. On the other hand, we want to foster an
interdisciplinary meta-debate with regards to the different ‘Imaginary’
concepts. Thereby we want to impose a strong focus on the implications
of these concepts for understanding energy futures:

·What are challenges and benefits of these plural accounts of
‘Imaginaries’ regarding science communication and public understanding
of science?

·Which are the gains and blind spots of the above outlined ‘Imaginaries’
concepts and other approaches towards imaginaries and energy futures?

·Observing the increase of different ‘imaginary’ concepts we want to ask
in a self-reflexive manner: What are the consequences of scientific work
in relation to society?

We want to encourage contributions shedding light on the rich
theoretical approaches of imaginary concepts. Thereby we aim at
providing incentives for various scientific fields to explore the
analytical possibilities of the concept, as well as encouraging papers
discussing capabilities and pitfalls of using imaginaries to grasp
current developments. Instead of having a mere theoretical controversy,
which imaginary account produces (more) ‘truth’, it is of interest how
the plurality of ‘Imaginary’ approaches can have beneficial or
detrimental consequences for the transitions of energy systems.

How to contribute:

·250-word abstract for a position paper for a controversial debate
focusing on the societal implications and consequences of using

As we expect proposals from different fields and expertise and for
creating a discussion with a minimum of misunderstandings, we want to
encourage you to use a scientific language suitable for a range of

Format of the session:

Currently, we are aiming for starting the session with (a fair share of)
interdisciplinary theory discussion and later on continue with a debate
about the societal consequences of the current mushrooming of scientific
‘Imaginary’-concepts. This means, short inputs, and enough room for
discussions. The specific time schedule will be circulated after acceptance.


Dec. 15th: Deadline for submission of abstracts to session organizers.

Feb. 1st: Deadline for selection of abstracts and notification of authors.


Contact person:*

Julia Epp, WZB, Berlin Social Science Center (

Silvio Suckow, WZB, Berlin Social Science Center (

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