Energy Transitions and Institutional Change: Between Structure and Agency

  • Sören Becker
  • Ross Beveridge
  • Andreas Röhring


This first conceptual chapter focuses on the analysis of institutional change and what this can reveal about Germany’s energy transition. The authors begin with a critique of the understanding of structure and agency as defined by Anthony Giddens which has underpinned much transitions research in the past. Reflecting on recent developments in institutional theory, they draw on historical institutionalism, discursive institutionalism and the strategic-relational approach in order to discuss the importance of path dependencies, meaning contexts and strategic or structural selectivities in unpacking issues of agency behind institutional change. These three institutionalist approaches are compared and their explanatory powers for energy transitions illustrated, using the case of a recent remunicipalization process in Hamburg’s energy sector as an exemplar.


energy transitions institutions structure agency historic institutionalism discursive institutionalism strategic-relational approach 


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sören Becker
    • 1
  • Ross Beveridge
    • 1
  • Andreas Röhring
    • 1
  1. 1.ErknerGermany

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