1st Edition

Citizen Activities in Energy Transition User Innovation, New Communities, and the Shaping of a Sustainable Future

By Sampsa Hyysalo Copyright 2021
    190 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    190 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book addresses the rapidly changing citizen roles in innovation, technology adoption, intermediation, market creation, and legitimacy building for low-carbon solutions. It links research in innovation studies, sustainability transitions, and science and technology studies, and builds a new approach for the study of user contributions to innovation and sociotechnical change.

    Citizen Activities in Energy Transition gives detailed and empirically grounded overall appraisal of citizens’ active technological engagement in the current energy transition, in an era when Internet connectivity has given rise to important new forms of citizen communities and interactions. It elaborates a new way to study users in sociotechnical change through long-term ethnographic and historical research and reports its deployment in a major, decade-long line of investigation on user activities in small-scale renewables, addressing user contributions from the early years to the late proliferation stages of small-scale renewable energy technologies (S-RETs). It offers a much-needed empirical and theoretical understanding of the dynamics of the activities in which users are engaged over the course of sociotechnical change, including innovation, adoption, adjustment, intermediation, community building, digital communities, market creation, and legitimacy creation.

    This work is a must-read for those seeking to understand the role of users in innovation, energy systems change and the significance of new digital communities in present and future sociotechnical change. Academics, policymakers, and managers are given a new resource to understand the "demand side" of sociotechnical change beyond the patterns of investment, adoption, and social acceptance that have traditionally occupied their attention.

    1. Introduction: citizens in energy innovation and sociotechnical change; 2. The biographies of artifacts and practices methodology for the study of sociotechnical change; 3. Initial focus: user innovation in sustainable energy technologies; 4. Broadening the inquiry: new internet-based energy communities; 5. Zooming out: user activities and the series of configurational movements in energy transition; 6. Conclusions and implications for management and policy; REFERENCES; APPENDIX 1. Data and methods on renewables innovation and adoption in the Finnish energy system


    Sampsa Hyysalo is Professor of Co-Design at the Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture in Helsinki, Finland. His research focuses on designer-user relations in sociotechnical change. This includes engagement in participatory design, codesign, open and user innovation, open design, peer knowledge creation, user communities, citizen science, and user knowledge in organizations. His research orientation is multidisciplinary with science and technology studies, innovation studies, and collaborative design being his main fields. He has authored several books, the latest being The New Production of Users: Changing Innovation Communities and Involvement Strategies (written with Elgaard Jensen and Oudshoorn), which won the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology’s Freeman Award, and Health Technology Development and Use: From Practice-Bound Imagination to Evolving Impacts (2010). Sampsa has published over 70 full-length articles and book chapters, including over ten publications in field-leading journals such as Research Policy, MIS Quarterly, Design Studies, and Social Studies of Science. He was the Chief Editor of Science & Technology Studies journal 2007–2016 and was awarded the Academy of Finland Award for Social Impact in 2010.


    "In this excellent book Sampsa Hyysalo describes how consumers affect sociotechnical change processes through innovation, peer help, market creation activities and shaping of public discourse. The specific area he studies in depth is consumer innovation in renewable energy and how it is catalyzed by Internet communities. The conclusions he draws are generally important to innovation scholars, innovation managers, and to innovation policymakers as well."

    Eric von Hippel, MIT

    "Finally: a comprehensive exposition of how users participate in sociotechnical change."

    Eva Heiskanen, University of Helsinki

    "This carefully researched book surfaces the invisible work that citizens do in procuring, installing and improving new energy technologies, and how this greatly matters regarding the shape of technologies and markets."

    Robin Williams, University of Edinburgh