Theory, Culture and Society:026327641986943 (forthcoming)

Low-carbon innovation is usually depicted as an exemplar of pursuit of the common good, in both mainstream policy discussion and the emerging orthodoxy of transition studies. Yet it may emerge as a key means of intensifying inequality. We analyse low-carbon innovation as a social and political process through the prism of differential risk-classes, focusing on the pivotal global case of emergence of the Chinese middle-class in seaboard megacities, especially regarding the profound challenges of urban e-mobility transition. This approach shows emergence of this still-forming sociopolitical grouping as tightly and complementarily coupled with the assembling of innovations that meaningfully tackle global risks, such as climate change, while also intensifying existing inequalities. Misrecognition of the duality of low-carbon innovations as both moral technologies and as relatively expensive consumer products has the potentiality to be a key mechanism of this process, thereby serving to reproduce, constitute and legitimize inequalities in novel and unexpected ways.
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DOI 10.1177/0263276419869438
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