Changing networks of power: A theoretical approach to the study of capitalized power in contemporary energy transitions

Tia Levi, Emil Israel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a theoretical approach to the study of power in energy transitions that builds upon Capital as Power (CasP) theory and the critique of neoclassical growth theory. The approach integrates an understanding of capitalist power relations and a consideration of changes in societal energy capture. The approach includes two levels of social power — a deep level, in which the socio-technical conditions of power accumulation are predetermined; and a surface level, in which social dynamics of creation, sabotage, and distribution unfold. It conceptualizes the relations between differential accumulation strategies, societal energy capture rates, and socio-technical change processes. Renewable-resource-based decarbonization is historically unprecedented, in two fundamental respects. First, since it seeks to replace, not augment, the established set of socio-technical practices, inversing the historical trajectory towards higher energy density systems. Second, since these processes threaten to reconfigure power relations that have historically exhibited a coupled growth in hierarchy and energy capture. Thus, a perspective on energy transitions is needed that accounts for the mutual effects of socio-technical change and organized power, under a set of specific historical conditions: global capital and the manifestation of planetary boundaries. To fully understand the power within energy transitions, we must study them from the perspective of differential accumulation — the driving force behind capital. With this context in mind, the dynamics of organized power and socio-technical change can become comprehensible.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103495
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Accumulation
  • Capital
  • Energy regime
  • Energy transition
  • Power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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