Governing System Transitions in the Context of Scattered Agency: Flexibility, Action, and Ecologies of Epistemic Equipment

Jens Iuel-Stissing*, Trine Pallesen, Peter Karnøe, Peter H. Jacobsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Orchestrating change when agency is scattered among many different actors is a salient challenge affecting the governance of societal systems during transitions. Established normative governance approaches emphasize the cultivation of shared understandings among actors as a premise for coordinated transformative action. The aim of this paper is to outline a more nuanced and less integrated conception of the governance work involved in aligning agencies in pursuit of transformative change. First, we argue that attempts to coordinate agencies must account for the fact that most actors relate to societal systems from specific situated positions and through specific situated practices, rather than from abstract perspectives. From this point of departure, we stipulate that coordination practices are shaped by the techniques employed by actors to interpret the complex environments of societal systems as meaningful and actionable. We conceptualize such techniques for making sense of complexities as epistemic equipment. Based on a case study of flexibility governance in the transition to low carbon energy systems in Denmark, we suggest that identifying, intervening, and reshaping entire ecologies of epistemic equipment constitute critical aspects of transformative system governance. These governance activities configure how situated actors make sense of their own roles within systems, which are experienced through practical everyday actions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101730
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Epistemic equipment
  • Power markets
  • Visibility of flexibility
  • Situated governance
  • Epistemic politics

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