Network-bound systems are crucial in environmental governance as the usage of their services embody significant environmental impacts. Conditions for network-bound systems providing services to consumers have altered dramatically over the last decades. Liberalization and privatization have led to a differentiation in providers, technologies, products and services, very a-typical for sectors that were formerly characterized by public and uniform modes of provision and consumption. The paper gives an overview of what the socio-technical differentiation of network-bound systems and services imply for end-users and how new relations emerge between users and providers of water and electricity services. Drawing upon contemporary theory development in science and technology studies and in environmental sociology, the paper presents recent empirical findings of differentiation and innovation in drinking water supply, waste water management and electricity supply in the Netherlands. From these developments, the paper concludes that sustainable innovation in network-bound systems leads to a differentiation of not only resources, providers and technologies but also of consumer roles towards provision and use of water and energy services in various ways. Considering that those diverse services are combined in consumers' social practices, a plea is made for a practice-inclusive perspective on understanding and enhancing sustainable innovation in network-bound systems.
- urban infrastructures
- social acceptance