Sustainability Transitions Research: Transforming Science and Practice for Societal Change

Derk Loorbach, Niki Frantzeskaki, Flor Avelino
2017 Annual Review Environment and Resources  
institutional, and socio-ecological. Although the field as a whole is very heterogeneous, commonalities can be characterized in notions such as path dependencies, regimes, niches, experiments, and governance. These more generic concepts have been adopted within the analytical perspective of transitions, which has led three different types of approaches to dealing with agency in transitions: analytical, evaluative, and experimental. The field has by now produced a broad theoretical and empirical
more » ... basis along with a variety of social transformation strategies and instruments, impacting disciplinary scientific fields as well as (policy) practice. In this article, we try to characterize the field by identifying its main perspectives, approaches and shared concepts, and its relevance to real-world sustainability problems and solutions. Abstract The article describes the field of sustainability transitions research, which emerged in the past two decades in the context of a growing scientific and public interest in large-scale societal transformation toward sustainability. We describe how dif ferent scientific approaches and methodological positions explore diverse types of transitions and provide the basis for multiple theories and models for governance of sustainability transitions. We distinguish three perspectives in studying transitions: socio-technical, socio-Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 2017.42:599-626. Downloaded from Access provided by on 11/04/20. For personal use only. TRANSITIONS RESEARCH: INTELLECTUAL ORIGINS, EMERGENCE, AND OUTREACH In this section, we describe how the field and community of transitions research emerged at the intersection between science and policy, including its intellectual origins and expansions, as well its public uptake, outreach, and subsequent funding and support. During the 1990s, the concept of transitions emerged at different places in the scientific community as a novel concept to generally address large-scale societal change and sustainability (8-11). The field of transitions research, as it exists today, can be traced back to at least two major (clusters of ) intellectual roots in the 1990s. The first was the broad category of innovation research, including science and technology studies, history of technology, evolutionary economics, and innovation policy (12-15). The second was the partly overlapping fields of environmental studies and sustainability sciences, including environmental assessment, integrated assessment, sustainability governance, and environmental policy (11, 16-18). Although this cluster represents a multitude of different disciplines, the streams 602 Loorbach · Frantzeskaki · Avelino Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 2017.42:599-626. Downloaded from Access provided by 207.241.231.
doi:10.1146/annurev-environ-102014-021340 fatcat:6znw6xwomvanzhgfnlicahjrvy