Socio-Technical Regimes and SustainabilityTransitions: Insights From Political Ecology. Progress in Human Geography 36 (3): 354 – 378

Programme Type: Projects Programme:
Publication Date: 2012

Sustainability is increasingly becoming a core focus of geography, linking subfields such as urban, economic, and political ecology, yet strategies for achieving this goal remain illusive. Socio-technical transition theorists have made important contributions to our knowledge of the challenges and possibilities for achieving more sustainable societies, but this body of work generally lacks consideration of the influences of geography and power relations as forces shaping sustainability initiatives in practice. This paper assesses the significance for geographers interested in understanding the space, time, and scalar characteristics of sustainable development of one major strand of socio-technical transition theory, the multi-level perspective on socio-technical regime transitions. We describe the socio-technical transition approach, identify four major limitations facing it, show how insights from geographers – particularly political ecologists – can help address these challenges, and briefly examine a case study (GMO and food production) showing how a refined transition framework can improve our understanding of the social, political, and spatial dynamics that shape the prospects for more just and environmentally sustainable forms of development. Link here