Rethinking access: key methodological challenges in studying energy companies

Müftüoglu, Ingrid Birce, Knudsen, Ståle, Freng Dale, Ragnhild, Eiken, Oda, Rajak, Dinah and Lange, Siri (2018) Rethinking access: key methodological challenges in studying energy companies. Energy Research & Social Science, 45. pp. 250-257. ISSN 2214-6296

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Understanding the role of large energy corporations in society is a crucial, yet challenging task for the social
science of energy. Ethnographic methods hold potential for plying into corporations’ own self-representations,
to reveal the relations of power and politics that determine flows of energy and extractive capital at the global
and local level. Ethnography help us move beyond structural analyses, to locate the agents and processes at work
within economies of energy production, and identify tensions and dynamics both within the corporation and at
the interface with society. We argue that a multi-method and reflexive approach can help social scientists reflect
on frictions in corporate encounters, and more importantly that attention to frictions is in fact a gateway to gain
new insights about the field. In our research project about Norwegian energy companies and their corporate social
responsibility work when ‘going global’, applying a multi-method made us question dominant assumptions
within anthropology of what constitutes “access”. We discuss how multiple approaches to “access”, which takes
into account the positionality of the researcher, fluidity of research fields along with attention to power dynamics
can shape the sort of knowledge that is produced when studying energy companies.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
School of Global Studies > International Development
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Global Political Economy
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2018 08:49
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2022 17:25

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Doing Good by Doing Well'.G1720ESRC-ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCILES/L000636/1
Norwegian energy companies abroad: Expanding the anthropological understanding of corporate responsibilityG1748RESEARCH COUNCIL OF NORWAY153400/240617