Organizing the Smart Grid: The Underlying Meso-Level Social Order of Smart Grid Development

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Friederike ROHDE, Technische Universitat Berlin, ZTG, Germany
Martina SCHAEFER, TU Berlin, ZTG, Germany
In the course of a transition towards a post fossil energy supply, the establishment of smart grids plays an important role. Although there are many smart grid demonstration and pilot projects, scientific insights on enabling and restricting conditions on a social level, remain scarce. From a sociological perspective the planning and implementation of a smart grid implies changes on different social levels. On a meso- level a smart grid requires new forms of cooperation and the mobilization of diverse actors as participants of the “intelligent” grid. First surveys show that ‘trust’ plays a decisive role in this context. The necessary changes therefore involve new organisational structures and ways of interaction. As part of the interdisciplinary BMWi-funded project “Energy Net Berlin Adlershof”, we aim at analysing the outlined changes and aspects from the perspective of organizational sociology. We are looking at the process of integrating and mobilizing new actors – especially high technology companies - as participants of a smart grid. Applying the theory of strategic action fields we want to examine how a meso-level social order is established and how actors undertake strategic action “to secure the willing cooperation of others”. Our questions are: What are the main aspects that influence the willingness of different actors to cooperate? How can actors be mobilized to participate in a smart grid? Furthermore there seems to be a crucial linkage between the willingness to cooperate and the generation of trust. The aim is to link the concept of social capital with the theory of strategic action fields. Furthermore it will be explored if approaches developed in sociology of technology on the role of infrastructure, can be made fruitful in this context. The research methods involve qualitative interviews and participating observations.