Epistemic justice impossible? Expert perceptions of the participatory monitoring of geo-energy projects in Poland

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Achieving energy democracy requires public engagement and social inclusion in decision-making, but meaningful conversations between different groups are essential. In this study, we explore the possibility for such conversations through participatory monitoring practices around energy technology, using geoengineering projects as an example. Despite being central to the attention of local communities, these projects can be conceptually distant and inaccessible because of their subsurface location. This presents a challenge for engaging experts with non-experts. We elaborate the emerging concept of epistemic justice (defined as fair treatment and equal access to knowledge for all stakeholders) and especially one of its dimensions: hermeneutical justice (that emphasizes the need for institutions to respond to the voices of all stakeholders without any prejudices), as preconditions for democratizing energy production. By applying Q-methodology we analyze the attitudes of 22 experts from Poland toward non-experts' participation in common monitoring activities around geo-engineering projects. We identify three types of narratives: “pro-expert”, “pro-partnership”, and “pro-informative” and argue that experts may be uncertain about their responsibility to engage non-experts in energy projects. Through this study, we encourage experts and knowledge producers to reflect critically on their responsibility to engage non-experts in energy projects and implement democratic procedures more efficiently, including future participatory procedures, thus paving the way for energy democracy to thrive.



This work was supported by: 1. European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and innovation program “SECURe – Subsurface Evaluation of Carbon Capture and storage and Unconventional risks” (grant agreement number: 764531 at Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań); 2. National Science Centre, OPUS “Powering the world: STS and anthropology towards social studies on new energies” (grant number: 2017/25/HS6/00880); 3. National Science Centre, PRELUDIUM “Local elites' reception of social consultation – a comparative case study” (grant number: 2016/21/N/HS6/02822); 4. Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange, “PASSION-Partnership for Sustainable development and Social Innovation” (grant number: PPI/APM/2019/1/00096/DEC/01).


Public participation, Expert knowledge, Epistemic justice, Environmental democracy, Energy justice, Stakeholders


Energy Research & Social Science, 102, 103154.


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Rights Creative Commons

Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego