© 2012

Tackling Long-Term Global Energy Problems

The Contribution of Social Science

  • Daniel Spreng
  • Thomas Flüeler
  • David L. Goldblatt
  • Jürg Minsch

Part of the Environment & Policy book series (ENPO, volume 52)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxviii
  2. Part I

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. David L. Goldblatt, Jürg Minsch, Thomas Flüeler, Daniel Spreng
      Pages 3-10
    3. Thomas Flüeler, David L. Goldblatt, Jürg Minsch, Daniel Spreng
      Pages 11-22
    4. Jürg Minsch, David L. Goldblatt, Thomas Flüeler, Daniel Spreng
      Pages 23-43
  3. Invited Contributions

  4. Part III

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 271-271
    2. Jürg Minsch, Thomas Flüeler, David L. Goldblatt, Daniel Spreng
      Pages 273-319
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 321-336

About this book


Most contemporary energy-related problems are social as much as they are technological. Yet typically, only scholars in a narrow range of social science disciplines engage in energy research.


This book makes a case for a multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach to energy research—one that brings more of the social sciences to bear. Featuring eight studies from across the spectrum of the social sciences, each applying multiple disciplines to one or more energy-related problems, the book demonstrates the strong analytical and policy-making potential of such a broadened perspective. Case studies include: energy transitions of households in developing countries, the ‘curse of oil’, politics and visions for renewables, economics and ethics in emissions trading, and carbon capture and storage.


The authors characterise the most pressing global energy problems, discuss the role of social science in analysing and addressing them and offer recommendations for research agendas.


Academics as well as practitioners working in the energy field will find the contents relevant and thought-provoking.


‘A forceful argument for the indispensible role of the social sciences in energy research and why the present asymmetry with the natural sciences/engineering has to be overcome in addressing the enormous complexity of the problems confronting us. A must-read for anyone interested in how academic research and civil society will either succeed or fail – together.’

Helga Nowotny, President, European Research Council


‘This book presents a crucial plea to all involved in energy problems. To scientists and engineers it shows that energy systems that are not well embedded in society will not function properly and sustainably. And for social scientists this book highlights how crucially important the scientific and technical dimensions of energy problems are for the social cohesion of society.’

Wiebe E. Bijker, Professor of Technology & Society, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands


co-evolution of technology and society knowledge types and integration multi- and transdisciplinary approaches research policy social science energy research

Editors and affiliations

  • Daniel Spreng
    • 1
  • Thomas Flüeler
    • 2
  • David L. Goldblatt
    • 3
  • Jürg Minsch
    • 4
  1. 1.ETH ZurichEnergy Science Center (ESC)ZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.ETH ZurichInstitute for Environmental Decisions (IZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.ETH ZurichCentre for Energy Policy and Economics (ZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.minsch sustainability affairsZurichSwitzerland

Bibliographic information