Cultural Anthropology

MOTIVATED MARKETS: Instruments and Ideologies of Clean Energy in the United Kingdom



This article examines efforts to reconcile capitalist and ecological values, focusing in particular on the instruments and ideologies that pervade the United Kingdom's developing renewable energy sector. In keeping with neoliberal models of economic knowledge and practice, renewable energy instruments target the motivations of individuals by using incentive programs to reach environmental policy goals. The argument focuses especially on the way newly implemented market devices shape and represent the motivations of energy producers, suppliers, and traders. The centerpiece of the U.K. government's initiative is the creation of an artificial market in renewability, bought and sold as a virtual commodity. Although the realities of economic motivation complicate the practical implementation of the renewable market, these are represented as isolated and self-interested “exchanges” by market devices, providing policymakers and their critics with partial yet authoritative accounts of renewable policy, premised on narrow and contested assumptions about economic motivation and action.