THESE LAST YEARS HAVE BEEN ONES OF A STRONG SOLICITATION OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, NOTABLY SOCIOLOGY, TO CLARIFY ENERGY ISSUES. THE INTERROGATIONS WHICH ARE THE FOCUS OF RESEARCHERS FROM THESE DISCIPLINES QUESTION THE CONDITIONS OF THE PRODUCTION OF A “SOCIAL” KNOWLEDGE, BUT AS WELL PRODUCTION CONDITIONS AND THE MOBILIZATION OF TOOLS AND OF METHODS.
Through this thematic axis, we wonder if the sociology of energy constitutes a real topic and specific field of research, with unique methodologies serving to unite the questions around its research fields. Can energy be a research object on its own for sociology or does it need to be studied inside a larger configuration, as a cross-sectional component of multiple social processes? How does the specific nature of the energy object lead to an evolution of classical methods of collecting data and even inventing new ways?
The question of levels and methodologies of questioning can equally be the object of a paper presentation. How to articulate micro-approaches, which illuminate individual initiatives or on the level of limited collectives, and those more macro, which stress the weight of socio-technical structures? In an energy sector which has, until now, used mainly technical approaches, can the interactions between social and engineering sciences lead to a new perspective with regards to energy and research practices? For sociologists, it is notably a question of evaluating the capacity to respond to the growing needs of the actors in the world of energy, notably those in industry and technical offices, but also public action, in terms of sociological knowledge capable of orienting their strategies. What is the nature of the sociological question in the field of energy? What collective and individual positions can sociologists adopt faced with these expectations? What are the tools at their disposition? Must sociology seize these questions, answer these expectations or should it maintain a position of uninvolved observer? There must also be a reflection on the way in which the energy question works with the sociological field regarding its relations to other competencies which can be experienced through types of competition.