Recursive Norm Building

This research project aims to analyse changes to the normative foundation of the socio-technical path of the German energy sector. This sector is currently in the midst of a transition: decentralisation and renewables are replacing oligopolistic electricity production based on nuclear energy and fossil fuels. In approaching this fundamental shift, we focus on three central events: (1) The 2000 Renewable Energy Sources Act and its amended versions; (2) the Fukushima disaster in 2011, and (3) the digitalisation of the energy sector since 2013. The assumption that informs our inquiry is that the German energy transition can only succeed if and when a new normative basis for energy production is developed. At present, the Energiewende has successfully challenged the traditionally legitimated order, but it has not yet secured a stable basis for the new energy regime. In this research, we aim to analyse ongoing value conflicts such as energy security versus sustainability, economic growth versus social welfare, and climate protection versus habitat preservation.

The concepts of recursivity and re-specification allow us to understand the contested process of constituting a new normative order for the energy transition in Germany. In terms of methods employed, we combine interviews with the content and frame analysis of legal documents and field-related as well as organisational materials. Three sub-projects will focus on the legal system, the organisational field and the energy providers. Findings from each of these sub-projects will be integrated to analyse their reciprocal influence.


1.7.2021 - 31.6.2024