Mapping sociotechnical resilience of energy sector in Singapore: a preliminary representation

Vivek Kant

School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Justyna Tasic

Interdisciplinary Graduate School, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

The aim of this chapter is to introduce a framework for analyzing sociotechnical resilience and its applicability for Singapore’s electricity sector. Two main streams of thought have addressed sociotechnical systems (STS) and its resilience—social sciences and engineering. Both these approaches act as complementary in their analysis of STS. While social scientists emphasize a bottom-up approach beginning from the intersubjectivity of engaged experiences, engineers decompose the system from top-down into its subsequent subsystems. In our blended approach, we start the analysis of STS from the bottom-up and discover relations, interdependencies and entangled meanings in their contexts. The purposeful and situated activity of various agents (operators, managers, among others) in light of normal functioning and accidents serves as the primary data for identifying encapsulated entities at each level of a multi-tiered representation of the STS. These encapsulated entities are identified as holons – an entity that is simultaneously a whole and a part. In this case, the holon is partitioned into five categories to take into account purposeful activity: purpose, act, agent, scene, and agency. At each level of abstraction, multiple holons exist based on the natural boundaries and dynamic partitions of the STS. From the systemic viewpoint, the STS will be conceptualized as a meshwork of holons that can provide insights into system properties, such as embedded risks of systemic degradation, organizational vulnerabilities, emergency response capacity, among other aspects that contribute to STS resilience. When viewed from its totality, this meshwork of holons represents the ongoing exchanges of information, capital, and matter constrained by the sociomaterial infrastructure of the STS. This representation of STS will be used as a basis for characterizing the Singapore electricity sector.

1. Makoto Takahashi
2. Anto Mohsin