A matter of time: Explicating temporality in science and technology studies and Bergen's car-free zone development
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEnergy Research & Social Science. 2021, 78, 102128. 10.1016/j.erss.2021.102128
In their article on ‘sociotechnical matters’, Hess and Sovacool (2020) draw on extant STS scholarship to unpack ‘the black box’ of sociotechnical contributions to social science studies of energy. Notably absent in their synthesis is explicit attention to temporality and to the impact of temporal dimensions on the politics of material change. We argue that temporality is a key analytical entry point to unpack how energy infrastructure changes. Using the case of transitions to low-carbon mobility in urban transport in Bergen, Norway, we highlight how attention to temporality enables us to not only understand and explain, but also engage with and influence, changes in sociotechnical matters. Empirically, we deconstruct the ongoing development of car-free zones in Bergen's suburban spaces, and show how the temporal organisation of events is a key constraint in the project. Car-free zone planning occurs within a continuously evolving context, with trade-offs between requisite time to build sufficient knowledge, fast-approaching project deadlines, and the timing of parallel synergistic processes. An analytical appreciation of the significance of time in setting and swaying the politics of material change is, we argue, instrumental to both unpacking the black box of sociotechnical matters and to informing and impacting change.