Energy, economics, and performativity: Reviewing theoretical advances in social studies of markets and energy

Antti Silvast

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


For many years, energy market design has held great promises as a solution to current energy issues; ranging from increasing international trade to emissions reduction, the securing of future electricity capacity, and increasing flexibility amid growing intermittent renewable energy resources. The emerging economic understandings of the energy infrastructure motivate conceptual and methodological innovations in the social sciences, which this paper pursues. Its first part describes recent advances in social studies of markets, which seek greater appreciation of the role of economics in the formation of markets via economic theories, instruments, and many other means. The second part focuses on emerging studies which draw on these approaches to examine energy systems including their markets, liberalisation, and sustainability. The essay brings together social studies of markets with energy and opens up important topics for understanding current energy transitions. These include how financial systems can be treated as key components of the socio-technical energy system in transition; and conversely, how the case of energy adds to the theories of social studies of markets and economics by highlighting manifold interdependencies between economics, engineering problems, existing infrastructures, and political contentions when market-based energy is at stake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-12
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Issue numberDecember
Early online date30 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 May 2017


  • Social studies of markets
  • Performativity
  • Economics
  • Energy and electricity
  • Infrastructure
  • Liberalisation


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