Social approaches to energy transition cases in rural Italy, Indonesia and Australia: iterative methodologies and participatory epistemologies

M. Sarrica, M. Richter, S Thomas, I. Graham, B. M. Mazzara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Energy transition is often described as the shift from deterritorialised models developed in tandem with the rise of capitalism towards a paradigm based on small-scale infrastructures and short supply chains. In this new paradigm the local dimension is pivotal. This paper takes a self-reflective stance on situated research conducted with local communities in Italy, Indonesia and Australia. The three rural communities are characterised by community ownership of energy production sites (past, current, and future ownership respectively), and by the copresence of alternative visions of energy sustainability among the locals. Drawing on the research experiences the paper reflects on the interrelated methodological, epistemological, and practical challenges encountered. Immersive and participatory approaches enabled the research teams to avoid prescriptive approach to the research, to access local understandings of energy and sustainability, and to gain insights into local interactions between multiple forms of knowledge and power. Across the three cases, methodological and epistemological challenges call for a careful consideration of the role of research and its interaction with power dynamics, capacity of collecting voices and knowledges, and democratization goals. Such challenges are discussed taking into account the “transferability” of methods and approaches across space, time and related project specificities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-296
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Multi-method
  • Participatory approach
  • Power
  • Rural communities

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