The preceding two decades have been characterized by the emergence of considerable protest and contention around issues of energy access. Riots, protests, sit-ins, and other forms of mobilization are frequent occurrences in response to energy pricing, access, and availability in both the Global North and South. The literature around energy is dominated by technocratic and economistic approaches, pertaining to the creation of more efficient energy markets and resolving bottlenecks in development agendas. However, there is a need to garner a more holistic perspective on energy that relates it to the lived reality of citizens across the world. This panel brings together academics who study energy from a social scientific perspective, reflecting on the centrality of energy in political and social life and what that tells us about state-society relations in the 21st century.