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Using the Capability Approach as a normative perspective on energy justice: Insights from two case studies on digitalisation in the energy sector

Hillerbrand, Rafaela 1; Milchram, Christine ORCID iD icon 1; Schippl, Jens 1
1 Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS), Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)


This paper explores how the Capability Approach (CA) can enrich the concept of energy justice by assessing the impact of two cases of digitalisation in the energy sector. Digitalisation promises technical solutions to pressing challenges in the energy sector such as climate change and fossil fuel scarcity. Current academic and popular discussions of these solutions are dominated by a techno-utopian ideal, which sometimes obscures complex ethical and social challenges. Furthermore, technology assessment in the energy sector often focuses on environmental and economic aspects of sustainability, while issues of energy justice or broader ethical concerns are often a low priority. In this paper, we explore whether Nussbaum’s version of the CA can be used as a systematic approach to the assessment of technological options that helps bring energy justice into the spotlight. Drawing on examples from two different areas of the energy system, namely, smart grids for the electricity sector and autonomous vehicles for the mobility sector, we demonstrate that the CA provides a normative framework that allows for aspects of individual deliberation and as such is well suited as a normative metric for the conception of energy justice in social science.

Verlagsausgabe §
DOI: 10.5445/IR/1000131412
Veröffentlicht am 16.04.2021
DOI: 10.1080/19452829.2021.1901672
Zitationen: 14
Web of Science
Zitationen: 11
Zitationen: 14
Cover der Publikation
Zugehörige Institution(en) am KIT Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS)
Publikationstyp Zeitschriftenaufsatz
Publikationsjahr 2021
Sprache Englisch
Identifikator ISSN: 1945-2829, 1464-9888, 1469-9516, 1945-2837
KITopen-ID: 1000131412
HGF-Programm 37.11.02 (POF IV, LK 01) Societally-Feasible Transformation Pathways
Erschienen in Journal of Human Development and Capabilities
Verlag Routledge
Band 22
Heft 2
Seiten 336-359
Nachgewiesen in Dimensions
Web of Science
Globale Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung Ziel 8 – Menschenwürdige Arbeit und WirtschaftswachstumZiel 13 – Maßnahmen zum Klimaschutz
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