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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number ES/N016351/2
Title Geo-logics and Geo-politics: The Collective Governance of European Shale Gas Development
Status Completed
Energy Categories Fossil Fuels: Oil Gas and Coal(Oil and Gas, Non-conventional oil and gas production) 90%;
Other Cross-Cutting Technologies or Research(Environmental, social and economic impacts) 10%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields SOCIAL SCIENCES (Politics and International Studies) 50%;
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences) 50%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Environmental dimensions) 10%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Technology acceptance) 25%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Other sociological economical and environmental impact of energy) 40%;
Other (Energy technology information dissemination) 25%;
Principal Investigator Dr K Kama
No email address given
Geography OUCE
University of Oxford
Award Type Standard
Funding Source ESRC
Start Date 01 April 2018
End Date 30 September 2019
Duration 18 months
Total Grant Value £92,059
Industrial Sectors
Region South East
Programme Training
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr K Kama , Geography OUCE, University of Oxford (100.000%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , Durham University (0.000%)
Project Contact , Institute for Energy and Transport (IET), Joint Research Centre (JRC), Petten, The Netherlands (0.000%)
Web Site
Objectives This research project has the following objectives:(1) To analyse the scientific and political controversies that underpin current debates over the prospects of shale gas development in Europe, focusing on conflicting assessments of recoverable gas resources and the industry's environmental risks.(2) To identify the forms and networks of knowledge that inform the industry's regulation and governance in Europe, with the purpose to document ongoing changes in expert knowledge-making without assuming the supremacy of geoscientific or industry expertise.(3) To analyse how shifts in the politics of expertise are grounded in multiple and conflicting definitions and valuations of subterranean materials as unconventional gas resources, or what this research terms 'geo-logics', drawing upon relational understandings of natural resources in geography and cognate disciplines.(4) To establish a new research agenda that examines the potential of geoscientific knowledge controversies to reconfigure existing forms and spaces of resource politics, or 'geo-politics', thereby advancing emerging trends in resource geography and anthropology, critical geopolitics, and Science and Technology Studies.(5) To facilitate experiments with creating more inclusive and participatory forums of knowledge production, policymaking and resource governance through information exchange and collaboration between social science researchers, regulatory authorities, and the industry's various stakeholders.
Abstract This project explores recent shifts in the knowledge and politics of resource development that have been implied by the prospective exploitation of shale gas resources in Europe. The possibility of implementing a US-developed industry in a substantially different geo-economic context represents currently one of the most heated scientific and political controversies in the EU, as debates over the feasibility and desirability of shale gas development have become highly polarised between and within member states. The difficulties of establishing a more balanced dialogue and decision-making are compounded by the lack of reliable scientific knowledge of potential resources, understanding of environmental impacts and a coordinated transnational policy. In the situation of prevailing scientific uncertainty and growing public opposition, it has become acutely clear that the industry's prospects cannot solely be decided by geoscientific expertise or industry-government negotiations. This has resulted in a particular crisis of governance, where it is no longer clear whose knowledge counts and who gets to decide over the industry's future, especially since the EU has currently no mandate to regulate the industry in its member states.This project analyses the changing forms and networks of expert knowledge and political authority that inform shale gas controversies, focusing particularly on conflicting assessments of recoverable resources and technological readiness. It examines whether these changes can be explained by diverse and conflicting social definitions of the geological resource, or what is conceptualised here as contending 'geo-logics', drawing upon relational accounts of natural resources in geography and cognate disciplines. Further, the project explores the potential of geoscientific controversies to give rise to non-elite forms of knowledge production and political agency, or what recent social science literature has called 'geo-politics'. Drawing on a series of in-depth interviews, ethnographic research and social network analysis, the project maps out the epistemic communities, modes of governance and resource definitions arising from shale gas controversies, with an empirical focus on EU-level policymaking and the two leading developer countries, the UK and Poland. In addition, the project puts the research findings into action by exploring what opportunities exist for experimenting with alternative forums of collective resource governance. This is achieved through a series of knowledge exchange and networking activities that bring leading social scientists specialising in unconventional energy resources together with key experts from EU and national authorities, industry, and civil society organisations.By documenting and conceptualising the 'geo-logics' and 'geo-politics' arising from European shale gas development, the project will establish a new research agenda for socio-political studies of natural resources at the intersection of resource geography and anthropology, critical geopolitics, and Science and Technology Studies. This research highlights the significance of contending resource definitions for understanding not only the challenges of unconventional energy development, but the dynamics of contemporary resource controversies and governance more generally.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 09/10/18