Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET)
CET Virtual Lunch Seminar

A matter of time: Explicating temporality in Bergen’s car-free zone development

CET is excited to announce this CET Virtual Lunch Seminar with Siddharth Sareen, CET researcher and Associate professor at the University of Stavanger and research assistant Devyn Remme.

image of a crowd in front of a stage with bicycles on the roof.
Car-free zones in Bergen.
Siddharth Sareen

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In a recent paper entitled ‘sociotechnical matters’, the authors draw on extant STS scholarship to unpack ‘the black box’ of sociotechnical contributions to social science studies of energy. Notably absent in their synthesis is explicit attention to temporality and to the impact of temporal dimensions on the politics of material change. In our reflection on this paper (under review), we argue that temporality is a key analytical entry point to unpack how energy infrastructure changes. Using the case of transitions to low-carbon mobility in urban transport in Bergen, Norway, we highlight how attention to temporality enables us to not only understand and explain, but also engage with and influence, changes in sociotechnical matters. Empirically, we deconstruct the ongoing development of car-free zones in Bergen's suburban spaces, and show how the temporal organisation of events is a key constraint in the project. Car-free zone planning occurs within a continuously evolving context, with trade-offs between requisite time to build sufficient knowledge, fast-approaching project deadlines, and the timing of parallel synergistic processes. An analytical appreciation of the significance of time in setting and swaying the politics of material change is, we argue, instrumental to both unpacking the black box of sociotechnical matters and to informing and impacting change. This is one of our early contributions from the JPI Climate funded project Responsive Organising for Low Emission Societies (ROLES).