Towards energy care ethics: exploring ethical implications of relationality within energy systems in transition

Caroline Sejer Damgaard*, Darren McCauley, Louise Reid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Social science energy research is asking important questions about the social, political, and economic implications of energy transitions, and the consequent changing roles and relationships in the energy system. This has given rise to ethically driven research agendas, with an increasing focus on the need to better understand how people relate in their daily lives, both to mundane dilemmas around energy use, and to bigger questions around energy systems and energy system change.

Based on insights from empirical Q-methodological research in Denmark and the UK, this article illustrates relational understandings of energy systems and a language of dependence, necessity and needs as important elements in how people make sense of the energy transition and their place in it. This challenges dominant frameworks and discourses of energy and energy transitions rooted in individualism and a language of individual responsibility, rational choice and/or individual rights and justice. In this article, we argue that a recognition of relationality and (inter)dependence as basic conditions of existence, and as basis for ethical reasoning in everyday engagements with energy in transition, is key to reflecting ways of relating to energy ethicalities in the everyday. This speaks strongly to recent advances of relational theories of energy systems and transitions, but calls for a recognition not only of inter-connections and relations, but of their ethical significance. To this end, we engage a feminist theory of care and care ethics in a proposition to ‘think energy with care’.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102356
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Early online date26 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Care ethics
  • Denmark
  • Energy ethics
  • Low-carbon transition
  • Q-methodology
  • UK


Dive into the research topics of 'Towards energy care ethics: exploring ethical implications of relationality within energy systems in transition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this