Publication Date


Document Type

Working Paper


Professor John Hall

Journal of Economic Literature Classification Codes

B52, L60, O14, Q42

Key Words

Energy, Institutional Economics, Machine Process, Nathan Rosenberg, Renewables, Thorstein Veblen


Over a span of more than a hundred years, fossil fuel production could be considered as a long-standing ceremonial technology in the Veblenian sense. However in recent times, due to rapid innovation through technological convergence, renewable energy is becoming just as cost effective and threatens to replace fossil fuels. Robert McCullough observes this change in renewable energy costs, in his report “The End of Big Iron”. Thorsten Veblen’s dichotomy between ceremonial and instrumental technologies, and his thoughts on institutional change can also aide in explaining this recent struggle between “ceremonial” fossil fuels and “instrumental” renewable energy technologies. Nathan Rosenberg should also be considered when explaining the recent drop in costs related to renewable energy production through his contributions on technological change and, technological convergence. This inquiry seeks to establish that technological convergence and the production capacity of the machine process in recent times serves as an indicator of ongoing institutional evolution in the energy sector.


© James Bennett

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