Cristina Besio, Nadine Arnold & Dzifa Ametowobla: Participatory Organizations as Infrastructures of Sustainability? The Case of Energy Cooperatives and Their Ways for Increasing Influence. [Abstract]

This article sheds light on the organizational dimensions of infrastructures of sustainability. We employ the case of energy cooperatives, which co-shape the new decentralized infrastructure for the supply of renewable energy, to illustrate the relevance of the organizational dimension. From a perspective of the sociology of organizations, we argue in the first part of the article that energy cooperatives advance radical imaginaries and innovative practices of sustainability because they are “unconventional organizations” characterized by participatory structures. Their participatory makeup integrates different social groups and concerns in their decision-making processes and enables them to combine economic, social, and ecological aims. Given that participatory arrangements are often associated with small organizational size but need to be scalable, the second part of the article explores how energy cooperatives can extend their sustainable practices, thereby strengthening their role as infrastructures of sustainability. We identify organizational networks, digital platforms, and symbolic influence as organizational ways to expand the sustainability imaginaries of cooperatives.

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