REES Depertment Seminar: Angeline Letourneau, University of Alberta – Monday, October 22, 2024

Date(s) - 22/01/2024
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
550 General Services Building, 550 General Services Building University of Alberta , Edmonton Alberta

Title: It provides the lifestyle that we have’: hegemonic masculinity, class mobility, and the just energy transition among fossil fuel workers

Speaker: Angeline Letourneau, Ph.D. Candidate Department of REES, University of Alberta

Date: Monday, January 22, 2024

Time: 2:00 – 3:00 PM

Location: 550 General Services Building


Industrial or frontier masculinities have long been associated with a strong role commitment to highly gendered jobs, like natural resource extraction. These masculinities have also been associated with climate denial and resistance to just energy transition policies, creating a persistent source of climate obstruction. Changing these identities is difficult and requires a significant time investment and time unavailable in the climate emergency. Previous research has yet to address whether these identities are committed to a specific industry, like fossil fuels, or if it is to transferable gendered identities. If industrial masculinities are more committed to transferable gendered identities than a particular industry, this may provide a pathway to gaining support for a just transition from this population without the time-consuming task of changing peoples’ identities because the gendered elements they value can still be realized in other sectors. Using semi-structured interviews with oil and gas workers in Alberta, I examine two main questions: 1) what is the role of identity, particularly masculinity, in either resistance against or support for a just energy transition? 2) How might we mobilize the values expressed by extraction workers to support, rather than resist, transition? Alberta’s oil and gas industry has a well-documented and distinctive masculine identity, which makes it a valuable case for testing commitment to industry or gendered identities. I argue that it is not a commitment to their role as a fossil fuel worker that anchors worker support for the fossil fuel industry, but the status and class mobility made possible through employment in the industry, though gender-informed participants’ understandings of what marked a high or desirable status. The perceived vilification of workers in dominant transition discourses was a key source of mistrust for transition policies. I highlight the importance of class analysis in energy transition research and the need for meaningful participation of impacted labor groups in imagining energy futures.

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