Recasting stories about energy in a post-pandemic world

Bergman, Noam and Janda, Kathryn (2021) Recasting stories about energy in a post-pandemic world. eceee Summer Study 2021, Online, 7–11 June 2021. Published in: eceee Summer Study proceedings. eceee ISSN 1653-7025

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Stories are one of the oldest forms of communication, and still have the power to shape cultural change. New and revised stories can help us address global challenges of energy, climate and society by offering visions and imagined futures that influence public discourse and policy. Old stories, even religious myths, could serve as inspiration and be recast to serve us today.
Dominant narratives can silence or marginalise other stories and perspectives, limiting imagined futures, while giving comfort and order – such is the cultural narrative of modern economic growth. But they could also be benign, inspiring and unifying in difficult times, when great changes are needed.
Crises and external shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, are disruptions that open windows of opportunity for change, making new or previously unpopular visions of the word more acceptable. Early in the pandemic, quiet streets and improved air quality gave glimpses of another world; social inequalities became more evident in differences in access to green outdoor space and ability to work and study online. Reactions to the pandemic highlighted a struggle between a desire for social change with a focus on wellbeing, and a push to return to ‘normal’. Alternative visions of the future, catalysed by this disruption, could help fast forward change.
We suggest single stories are not enough to imagine and move towards desirable futures. Rather an ‘ecosystem of stories’ is needed as they ebb and flow in their influence, with new stories sitting alongside old ones, sometimes engaged in a struggle for domination. We argue that our current culture often emphasises ‘hero stories’ (with people, technology or even markets as heroes). Policy scenarios often lack stories of stewardship and caring, and similarly avoid engagement with precautionary tales of failure and environmental collapse. We conclude that policy should draw on a variety of imagined futures from a broader selection of actors and communities to enable systemic change.

Item Type: Conference Proceedings
Additional Information: 1-169-21
Keywords: narratives, visions, stories, hero story, ecosystem, system of stories
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
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SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2021 10:28
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2021 10:10

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