Axes of contestation in sustainability transitions

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Research in sustainability transitions increasingly acknowledges that the structural characteristics of socio-technical systems differ. However, little attention has been paid to the specific transition dynamics that can result from this structural variation. In response, this paper develops a framework for studying transition dynamics that takes the structural characteristics of socio-technical systems and their influence on agency into account. We introduce the concept contestation axis to highlight alternative potential interfaces between functional solutions in a socio-technical system. We argue that considerable agency and frictions between actors can play out at other axes than between established regimes and emerging niches. Our conceptual framework is applied to a case study in the waste sector. We explore how the growing influence of the circular economy triggers misalignment between multiple socio-technical configurations in the Danish waste sector. In the case, we zoom in on three actual frictions that have manifested along different contestation axes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Volume45
Pages (from-to)246-269
Number of pages24
ISSN2210-4224
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

ID: 326744564