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Measurement of Fairness Perceptions in Energy Transition Research: A Factorial Survey Approach

Liebe, Ulf; Dobers, Geesche M.

Justice and fairness are increasingly popular concepts in energy research and comprise several justice dimensions, including distributive and procedural justice, related to energy production and consumption. In this paper, we used factorial survey experiments—a method employed in sociological justice research—for energy transition research. In a factorial survey, respondents evaluated one or more situations described by several attributes, which varied in their levels. The experimental setup of factorial surveys is one of its advantages over simple survey items, as based on this, the relative importance of each attribute for justice evaluations can be determined. We employed the method in a study on the perceived fairness of renewable energy expansion projects related to wind energy, solar energy, and biomass in Germany, and considered aspects of procedural and distributive justice. We show that the effects of these justice dimensions can be separated and the heterogeneity in justice evaluations can be explained. Compared to previous studies applying factorial survey experiments to explain the acceptance of renewable energy projects, we employed the method to directly measure justice concerns and asked respondents to evaluate the vignettes in terms of perceived fairness. This is important because acceptance and fairness as well as inequality and injustice are different phenomena.
Published in: Sustainability, 10.3390/su12198084, MDPI