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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Competing Transport Futures: Tensions between Imaginaries of Electrification and Biogas Fuel in Sweden

Mutter, Amelia; Rohracher, Harald


The choice of fuels has frequently been at the center of debates about how a future low-carbon mobility system can be achieved. This paper introduces two visions of biogas fuels and electricity using material from interviews and documents in Swedish transport. These visions are analyzed as interrelated sociotechnical imaginaries. To better understand the way visions of biogas and electric vehicles (EVs) dynamically shape and condition each other, four dimensions of sociotechnical imaginaries are further developed: spatial boundedness, temporality, coherence and contestation, and the socio-material relations they are associated with. Imaginaries of biogas and EVs differ with respect to these characteristics. The biogas imaginary is made up of locally bounded visions of the desirable future, showing how imaginaries can be fragmented and contested, often because of their embeddedness in local socio-material systems of resource use. This local boundedness is exemplified by contrasting cases of contested biogas imaginaries in the Swedish municipalities of Linkoping and Malmo. The imaginary of EVs, in contrast, is more uniform nationally and even influenced by international expectations that in the future vehicles will be shared, electric, and autonomous. The qualities of these imaginaries shape the way they interrelate and coevolve as sociotechnical changes of the transport system unfold.


sociotechnical imaginaries; transport futures; electric vehicles; biofuels; multiplicity

Published in

Science, Technology, and Human Values
2021, volume: 47, number: 1, article number: 0162243921996052

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Linköping University
Rohracher, Harald
Linkoping University

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG7 Affordable and clean energy
SDG9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

UKÄ Subject classification

Transport Systems and Logistics
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

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