Social networks and local transformations – electricity transitions in Germany

Gerhard Fuchs


In the transformation of the German electricity system, the importance of local efforts looms large. At the local level, actors which had in previous times little influence in the field are building new types of coalitions motivated by climate protection as well as economic motives. The present paper will compare four local electricity networks both with respect to its structural features as well as with respect to their genesis. Theoretically, the paper is based on recent developments in field theory (Fligstein/McAdam 2012) as well network theory (Padgett/Powell 2012). Although stressing the role of human agency in generating institutional change and the diffusion of innovations, this literature also highlights certain structural features that facilitate entrepreneurial efforts (Clemens/Cook 1999). Most important is the position of particular actors embedded in multiple social networks (Padgett/Ansell 1993). Because entrepreneurial action requires the construction of coalitions and innovative framing of issues, actors who straddle significant social networks are well situated to engage in skilled social action. Especially in certain risky types of innovation, spatial proximity is an important precondition for their successful performance. Clemens, Elisabeth S. /Cook, James M. 1999: Politics and Institutionalism: Explaining Durability and Change. Annual Review of Sociology 1999 25:1, 441-466 FLIGSTEIN, Neil/MCADAM, Doug 2012: A Theory of Fields. Oxford: Oxford University Press Padgett, John F./ Ansel, Christopher 1993: Robust action and the rise of the Medici, 1400-1434, American Journal of Sociology 98, 1259-1319 Padgett, John F./Powell, Walter W. (Hrsg.) 2012: The Emergence of Organizations and Markets. Princeton: Princeton UP

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