Assessing Technology Legitimacy with Topic Models and Sentiment Analysis – The Case of Wind Power in Germany

Joris Dehler-Holland*, Marvin Okoh, Dogan Keles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Legitimacy is a crucial factor determining the success of technologies in the early stages of development and for maintaining resource flows as well as public and political support across the technology life cycle. In sustainability transitions that unfold over long periods of time, the maintenance of legitimacy of technologies identified as vital for sustainability becomes a key challenge. In the energy sector, wind power contributes to the transition to an energy system with low greenhouse gas emissions. In Germany, wind power recently faced a series of lawsuits and decreasing investment activity. Therefore, we assess the legitimacy of wind power in Germany by analyzing newspaper articles from four national newspapers from 2009 to 2018. A large amount of articles motivates the use of topic models, sentiment analysis, and statistics to shed light on the changing alignment of wind power with its context. The results show that various issues temporarily gain prominence on the agenda. Lately, the legitimacy of wind power in Germany has been increasingly challenged by adverse effects on humans, animals, and landscapes. Policymakers and project developers may address aspects of pragmatic legitimacy, such as civic participation and the local distribution of profits.
Original languageEnglish
Article number121354
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
ISSN0040-1625
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Technology legitimacy
  • wind power Germany
  • energy transitions
  • structural topic model
  • natural language processing
  • text mining

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