RN12 - Environment and Society

The Environment & Society Research Network aims to provide a platform for social scientists interested in issues of environment and sustainability. The main activity of the E&S network is the coordination of sessions at the biannual ESA conference. The network also has an e-mail list and a website to facilitate communication among social scientists active in the field of environment and sustainability. 

Researchers and educators who are interested are welcome to join the network. For more information, please contact the network's chair Matthias Gross at matthias.gross[at]ufz.de.

Board members:

Matthias Gross, chair/coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Audrone Telesiene (vice-chair),  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Çigdem Adem
(e-mail list), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Balínt Bàlazs
, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Giorgio Osti
, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mikael Klintman
, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mercedes Martínez
, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Luísa Schmidt
, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Aleksandra Wagner,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Peter Oosterveer, 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Henning Best (treasurer), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Click here to read the biennial report 2013-2015 of RN12 

Click here to read the biennial report 2011-2013 of RN12

Click here to read the biennial report 2009-2011 of RN12  

Call for Papers

3rd Energy & Society Conference

Midterm conference of ESA RN 12

“Transforming Energy for Society”

Leipzig, Germany, September, 12-14, 2016


About the 2016-conference theme

While global oil and gas supplies are subject to geopolitics, the concrete form of a particular energy regime is often an issue of national politics. This has recently become clear within the context of climate change mitigation and energy security, with significant differences in national approaches. Some countries have opted for a renewed fossil fuel strategy pursuing unconventional exploitation of shale gas and oil, and new nuclear capacities. Other nations are by contrast pursuing renewable energy systems, seeking to dramatically reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and a third group, most notably China, is heavily investing in both energy regimes. Pathways of energy regimes have long term implications for the labour market, the landscape and built infrastructure, the parliamentarian spectrum and the relationship of regions to their central government. While renewable strategies call for increased cooperation between neighbouring countries, energy sector coupling and “smart” de-centralisation, fossil and nuclear pathways will reaffirm large scale industrial infrastructure, global fuel supply chains and centralised ownership.

Energy policies are foremost legitimised in a national context, but they also relate to the international discourse on climate change mitigation as well as practices on the local level. The consequences of increasingly diverging pathways thus have implications for single nations as well as for global politics. For example, in the European context, while some countries have opted for nuclear power and unconventional fossil fuels, others support a post-fossil road map. The period of broad consensus that shaped energy policies in Europe for many years and formed the very basis of the early Union itself makes way for a new phase of contention.

These issues present important questions for social research, regarding discourses of risk, acceptance and legitimacy, investment and costs, (changing) practices of energy consumption and production, and evolutions in actor networks.

Taking this as a starting point, the conference explores the diversity of contemporary energy regimes and seeks to examine the emerging questions. We want to address the particular local and national contexts and also the big picture. What could be a seed for change when hopes in post-Kyoto politics are repeatedly disappointed? Do energy and climate politics need a restart to develop a new pathway for a desirable sustainable future?

We encourage submissions on a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to the following:

  • Local, regional, national and international energy strategies, pathways and policies
  • Theoretical approaches to energy transitions research
  • Energy, vulnerability and poverty
  • Public participation, democracy and justice in ‘old’ and ‘new’ energy provisioning
  • Spatial and geo-political dimensions of energy transition pathways
  • Communities, grass roots and self-organisation in energy transitions
  • Dynamics and patterns of energy use practices
  • Smart meters, smart appliances, smart grids, smart everything?
  • Economics of energy transitions: Green/blue economy, degrowth, divestment, and other concepts
  • Research at the nexus of energy-environment-water-food-mobility
  • Methodological approaches to energy research

We encourage submission of abstracts for presentations and posters. Workshop proposals are also welcome.

Sessions and Submissions

  • Abstracts (oral and poster presentations): 150-200 words. Please indicate your preference regarding the format (presentation in a session, poster, round table) and session topic
  • Workshops (90 min.) proposals are invited in different formats with a focus on thematic, methodological, and/or theoretical discussions. They can include up to four presentations. If the workshop is planned to include individual presentations, the workshop organizer also needs to include a title and abstract of each presenter’s paper (150 words and affiliations).


Selected abstracts will be allocated by the conference organisers to roundtable sessions. Roundtable sessions are where a number of presentations are given simultaneously at separate tables within a single room. Each table will have a session chair and the papers allocated to it will be grouped by themes. Each of the papers within the roundtable will be allocated a 20 minute slot (15 minutes presentation followed by 5 minutes questions). Computers and PowerPoint are not used during the roundtable sessions giving presenters an opportunity to think more creatively about their presentation. These are particularly useful sessions for presenting work in progress and early stage ideas for discussion with peers. If you would like to be selected to present in the roundtable session please indicate your preference on your submission.

Key Information

Authors cannot present more than one paper but can be co-authors of other papers. Abstracts must be submitted in English.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts and workshop proposals is January 10th 2016. Authors will be informed whether or not their abstract or workshop proposal is accepted by 1st of March 2016.

The fees for the conference are to be for early bird registration 50 Euro for ESA members, 60 for non-members, 30 for students. Registration will open from March to July 2016.

We look forward to welcoming you to Leipzig! Further info including abstract submissions can be found here: http://www.ufz.de/energyandsociety

ESA 2015 - Call for Papers

Differences, Inequalities and the Sociological Imagination
12th Conference of the European Sociological Association
Prague, Czech Republic, 25 – 28 August 2015

RN12 - Environment and Society

RN Coordinator: Matthias Gross, Helmholtz Centre of Environmental Research, Leipzig and University of Jena, Germany, matthias.gross(at)ufz.de


The theme of the 12th conference of the European Sociological Association (ESA) is “Differences, Inequalities and Sociological Imagination.” In accordance with this theme, RN12 will critically focus on the environmental dimensions of contemporary inequalities and justice issues as well as the sociological imagination to fathom new ways of conceptualizing human development in the natural environment. Our sociological focus will be on areas as diverse as water management, social movements, renewable energies, human-animal relations, air and soil pollution, environmental risks, the role of science and technology in environmental innovation, and vulnerability to natural and technological disasters. We aim to explore issues of environment and society from diverse theoretical, methodological and empirical points of view keeping an eye on practice orientation of sociological research.

We invite you submit abstracts to the session themes listed below. Topics addressed in the RN 12 sessions include, but should not be restricted by those listed below:


01RN12. Social Theory and the Environment

02RN12. Sociology and Climate Change

03RN12. Natural Disasters, Resilience, and Vulnerability

04RN12. Renewable and Non-renewable Energies

05RN12. Social, Environmental, and Financial Pillars of Sustainability

06RN12. (Un-)Sustainable Consumption

07RN12. Risk, Rationality and Environmental Decision Making

08RN12. Local and Global Food Chains

09RN12. Environmental Communication, Values, and Attitudes

10RN12. Participation, Citizenship and Environmental Democracy

11RN12. Science, Technology, and Environmental Innovation

12RN12. Biodiversity and Nature Conservation

13RN12. Energy Transitions and Sociological Theory

14RN12. Governance and Management of Water

15RN12. Environmental Justice

16RN12. New Trends in Environmental Movements Research

17RN12. Urban Structures and Environmental Change

18RN12. Transition Theory and Environmental Reform

19RN12. Human-Animal Studies and Environmental Sociology

20RN12. Corporate Social Responsibility and the Circular Economy

21RN12. Biological Diversity and Nature Conservation

22RN12. Low Carbon Society

23RN12. Environment & Society (open session for new trends in environment sociology not covered in the topics above)


We are open for additional topics as long as they can be accommodated in the conference schedule. Authors from outside of Europe are especially welcome to submit abstracts and participate in the sessions.

Authors are invited to submit each abstract only to one session theme/topic. After abstract evaluation, coordinators will transfer papers between session topics where applicable.

Abstracts should not exceed 1750 characters (including spaces) or approximately 250 words. Each paper session will have the duration of 1.5 hours. Normally sessions will include 4 papers. Abstracts can only be submitted online no later than 1st of February 2015 to the submission platform at: http://esa12thconference.eu/abstract-submission. Abstracts sent by email cannot be accepted.

The information requested during abstract submission include: 1) name(s), affiliation(s) and email of all the author(s); 2) contact details of presenting author (postal address, and telephone in addition to email); 3) title of proposed presentation; 4) up to 4 keywords (optional).

Submitting authors will receive an email of acknowledgement of successful submission receipt. Abstracts will be peer-reviewed and selected for presentation. Each author cannot submit more than two abstracts (as first author).

Abstract submission deadline: 15th February 2015

Abstract submission platform: http://esa12thconference.eu/abstract-submission or the link below until 1st  February 2015: www.conftool.pro/esa2015/

The language of the abstract should be English. Acceptance of the abstract will be based on the following criteria:

• Does the abstract indicate that the paper will make an original, understandable, and meaningful contribution to environment and society debates?

• If the paper presents new empirical material it must be clear from the abstract upon which research any of the conclusions for environment and society debates are based.

• If the paper mainly presents new theoretical considerations it must be clear from the abstract which existing theories and concepts the paper is in discussion with, and which new insights will be added to the debates.


If you have further questions on the conference, please visit the conference website. For further information on the Research Network, please visit http://www.europeansociology.org/research-networks/rn12-environment-and-society.html


                                                                        Call for Papers

                                                         2nd Energy & Society Conference
                              Midterm conference of ESA RN 12, in cooperation with ISA RC 24
                                                         Krakow, 4th – 6th June 2014

                                                Energy Transitions as Societal Transitions:
                                                Challenges for the Present and the Future

Energy transitions are strongly linked to wider societal change. Questions remain, however, regarding how these links can be characterized and whether proposed energy transitions currently place enough emphasis on the implied transformations to societal structures, including habits, life styles, social structures and norms. Further, it is unclear whether the extent of change and the sometimes quite radical implications for society are adequately captured in existing attempts to chart transitional pathways. Two key overarching concerns are at the centre of this conference. First, issues relating to whether non/changing societies are enabling or blocking wider technological or infrastructural transformations. This includes problems of societal acceptance, participation and living cultures, as well as political structures and the nature of contemporary societies (e.g. capitalist, neo-liberal societies). Second, questions about the ways that technological or infrastructural transition intersects with economic, cultural, social, and political routines. This incorporates concerns about environmental justice and capability effects and social sustainability that may be disrupted through technological and infrastructural transition.

We invite all researchers interested in the social aspects of energy transitions to submit abstracts for the 2nd Conference of the International Energy and Society Network, which will be held at the Institute of Sociology (Jagiellonian University), Krakow, Poland, on June 4-6, 2014.

The conference aims at bringing together researchers interested in relations between energy and society and to provide an opportunity for them to connect with others for the purpose of international exchange and possible research collaboration in this area. The conference will feature a keynote by a distinguished scholar prof. Elisabeth Shove. In addition to thematic panels of regular paper presentations, the program will include workshops and scheduled time and space for discussions. Additionally, optional excursions will be organized, likely to include a visit to the Laboratory of RES and Energy Safe Technologies or to a Coal Mining site.

We encourage submissions on a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to the following:

-    Energy policies as public policies: social impacts of energy transitions, socially conscious shaping of transitions.
-    Structural changes to the energy system and changes in society: decentralization, shifts from “big players” to a multitude of actors, from consumer to prosumer.
-    Energy transition as local project: local initiatives, citizen power plants, local strategies, and the interplay of governance levels.
-    Conceptual approaches to energy transition research: existing concepts-new applications, innovations in theory.
-    Energy transition in context: national and regional conditions, paradigms and pathways, energy cultures.
-    Interlinking socio-technical systems: energy – water, energy – waste, energy-food.
-    Practice, materiality, energy and social change: innovations in practice, embeddedness, technology and change
-    Energy poverty, justice and development: energy poverty research and concepts, environmental justice, political and personal conceptions.
-    Public acceptability: implications for energy system transitions, approaches to understanding acceptability.  
-    Energy demand, markets and innovation: the shaping of demand, implications of energy market innovation for demand.

Please send your abstracts of no more than 250 words by 15th of December 2013 via e-mail:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Notifications of acceptance will be given in January 2014
Full Papers are welcome but are not a requirement. Any full papers submitted will be distributed to the conference participants. A journal special issue is planned as an output of the conference.
More information is available  at www.energyandsociety.confer.uj.edu.pl

About the Energy and Society Network
The Energy and Society Network was established in 2010 by academics active in the European Sociological Association Research Network on Environment and Society and  in the International Sociological Association Research Committee on Environment and Society. Over 140 researchers from Europe and elsewhere contributed to the first conference of the Energy and Society network, which was held in Lisbon in 2012 as a Midterm Conference of the ESA’s Research Network on Environment and Society. The network published a selection of papers from the first conference in a special issue of Nature and Culture due for release in 2014.

Scientific organizing committee
Marian Niezgoda, Institute of Sociology - Jagiellonian University (Poland)
Maria Swiatkiewicz-Mosny, Institute of Sociology - Jagiellonian University (Poland)
Aleksandra Wagner, Institute of Sociology - Jagiellonian University (Poland)

Çigdem Adem, The Public Administration Institute for Turkey and the Middle East (Turkey)
Françoise Bartiaux, Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium)
Catherine Butler, Cardiff University - School of Psychology (UK)
Ana Horta, Universidade de Lisboa - Instituto de Ciências Sociais (Portugal)
Matthias Gross, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and University of Jena (Germany) 
Pia Laborgne, IWAR/TU Darmstadt and European Institute for Energy Research (Germany)
Giorgio Osti, Università degli Studi di Trieste - Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche e Sociali (Italy)
André Schaffrin, Europäische Akademie (Germany)
Luísa Schmidt, Universidade de Lisboa - Instituto de Ciências Sociais (Portugal)

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