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Out of Steam: Energy, Materiality, and Political Ecology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalProgress in Human Geography
Early online date3 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Nov 2019


King's Authors


Energy is increasingly used as a lens to study wider social processes. For political ecologists, ‘energy’ has usually been seen as a resource or socio-technical system that gives rise to contentious social relations. This article instead thinks of energy as a materiality with thermodynamic properties. At once, energy becomes an analytical concept with physical and political-economic dimensions. Developing this perspective, the article examines the notion of ecologically unequal exchange and unpacks discussions on how energy systems are co-productive of politicised environments. The outcome is an expanded definition of political ecology set out in relation to three modes of social power.

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