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Mauro Sarrica, Sonia Brondi and Paolo Cottone

This article examines the contents of the representations of sustainable energy in Italy from 2009 to 2011. In particular it explores the representations of energy, energy systems, and users. The article's starting point was the assumption that critical points may change the relationship between communities and the represented issues, and that new representations may be dialogically elaborated following relevant societal events. Political debates and newspaper articles dealing with sustainable energy were subjected to content analyses. Results show that the representations bear witness to the prevalence of economic and strategic approaches and a view of citizens whereby, even when involved in decentralized systems, they are required to stay passive. Alternative contents seem not to challenge the hegemonic view of energy. A clear trend toward sustainability is lacking, suggesting the absence of a continuing motivation to look at energy taking into account the civic growth of the population.