Photo of Harald Rohracher

Harald Rohracher

Deputy Head of Department, Professor

Whether climate change or depletion of resources - many of our current challenges are linked to the way we build and organise infrastructures. In my research I am interested in attempts to govern infrastructural change in cities and regions.

Governing socio-technical change

A transition towards a more sustainable low-carbon economy is seen as one of the key contemporary challenges of our societies. In my research I investigate the potentials and limitations to shape such transformation processes from a socio-technical perspective.

Many of today’s most pressing challenges, whether climate change, the future of health systems, or global economic disparities are deeply interrelated with our (in)capacity to change current infrastructures and govern socio-technical change. Infrastructures are contested political terrains: they shape the way we communicate, how we move, how we lead our everyday lives; they are interlaced with political and economic power relations and they produce certain inclusions and exclusions.

In my research I am interested in infrastructural change particularly in the field of energy systems - the introduction of renewable energy technologies, sustainable and energy efficient buildings, or the transformation of electricity grids. A particular focus of my work is on cities as a specific context of socio-technical change and on the increasing integration of information and communication technologies in infrastructures as it is often expressed through labels of smart - smart grids, smart cities, smart homes.

I study the change and transformation of energy systems and infrastructures as a socio-material practice and have a special interest in the role of users, households and civil society organisations in shaping change but also in how they become configured in particular ways through different governance strategies.

Questions in this context are:

  • How does our way of dealing with the challenge of climate change and sustainability shift social relations and power structures?
  • How do new socio-technical assemblages emerge and become institutionalised and others becoming unstable?
  • How do we attempt to shape transformative change of infrastructure systems and how successful are these strategies?



Research Projects

Sustainable buildings from a socio-technical perspective

This project brings a group of outstanding guest researchers in the field of sustainable buildings to Sweden. The aim is to further strengthen and internationally embed interdisciplinary, socio-technical research on building and planning at Linköping University, Tema T. 

Strategies for making our building stock more sustainable cannot be effective without focusing on buildings within their socio-technical context, i.e. the interrelation of new building technologies with social practices of use and everyday live; the influence of institutional contexts like building regulations, the structure of the building industry, or broader socio-cultural contexts; and the interactions, interests and expectations of actors, such as residents, architects, municipalities or building companies.

A hub for further international cooperations 

Various research projects at Tema T are following such an approach and are dealing with questions of knowledge creation and brokerage in energy-efficient refurbishment, participation processes in the development of sustainable city districts, sustainable infrastructure planning, or the organisation of learning processes between architects, building owners and other key actors in low-energy buildings. The guest researchers will also contribute to consolidate and strengthen this research field in Sweden as a whole and turn it into an international centre of excellence and a hub for further international cooperations and research networks.

Guest Researchers



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