Sub-theme 10: Energizing energy markets: Institutions, devices and experiments

Peter Karnøe
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Petter Holm
Norwegian College of Fishery Science, University of Tromsø, Norway
Fabian Muniesa
Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation, Ecole des Mines de Paris, France

Call for Papers

The aim of this sub-theme is to bring together a unique critical mass of social scientists who are engaged in the 'markets as institutions' and 'markets as devices' research agendas in order to let them present how they theorize and investigate markets, and to implications for the making and breaking of boundaries in techno-economic regimes of value. Energy markets, technologies for energy markets and energy-related markets are the research object for this conference. Markets are not 'pure' and 'natural' entities, and yet economic actions are often understood as the result of market laws that unfolds in a self-organising manner without hierarchical control in a 'natural' law-type way. This may seem paradoxical if the market economy is conceptualized from a purely neoclassical 'text-book' perspective, for which institutional intervention is an 'artificial' operation that may hinder the natural efficiency of free and competitive market mechanisms. But, if markets are theorized from the broader perspectives of new institutional sociology and economics, new economic sociology and science and technology studies, then the paradox dissolves. As hard and natural as their laws may be, markets are always 'instituted' processes.

The subtheme invites empirical studies and theoretical elaborations, which add to these new theoretical concerns.

Multiple actors (states, firms, industry associations, scientists, NGOs, etc.) are involved in organizing markets. How do we think about and study the actions and forms of agency, the processes, and the reflexivity and creativity of making and breaking boundaries in relation to existing and new techno-economic regimes and their implicated arrangements? Where do 'carbon-free’' societies and implicated technologies and markets come from?

Multiple things (metric devices, pricing tools, indexes, trading protocols, merchandising material, scientific theories, etc.) are thus also involved in organizing markets. How relevant are these devices (their shape and their agency) in shaping the transition to new forms of energy market organization? What is the role of experimentation in market design or in market R&D?

The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (2006) is an important landmark in this discussion. It concludes that not taking externalities seriously was the biggest ‘market failure’ in last century, and brings attention to externalities back at centre stage for political market design. At the national, EU and UN levels the issue of climate change and global warming has opened many black boxes for markets and commodities where energy or environmental properties are key issues for their valuation. Indeed, these black boxes have merely 'exploded' in contestations about politics, regulations, claims for sustainability, and superior properties, as well as it has stimulated many entrepreneurial challenges from new technologies and experimental life forms.

We invite contributions on the following issues:

  1. Making and breaking boundaries in calculative practices, in what counts (how does it count and for whom does it count), and in the use of market-enabling devices.

  2. Making and breaking boundaries in techno-economic market regimes of value (or of worth), in institutional entrepreneurship, and in innovation.

  3. Making and breaking boundaries in market monitoring and surveillance, and in competition policy (and police).

  4. Making and breaking boundaries in technical democracy, in participation in market design, and in negotiating the implementation of markets.

  5. Making and breaking boundaries in exchange between industrialized and developing countries, and in the political economy of energy markets.

Peter Karnøe 
Petter Holm 
Fabian Muniesa