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The economic crisis as a game changer? Exploring the role of social construction in sustainability transitions

Loorbach, Derk; Avelino, Flor; Haxeltine, Alex; Wittmayer, Julia M.; O'Riordan, Tim; Weaver, Paul LU and Kemp, René (2016) In Ecology and Society 21(4).
Abstract

Continuing economic turbulence has fuelled debates about social and political reform as much as it has stimulated actions and initiatives aimed at a more fundamental transition of dominant economic systems. This paper takes a transition perspective to explore, from a Western European viewpoint, how the economic crisis is actually viewed through a variety of interpretations and responded to through a range of practices. We argue that framing societal phenomena such as the economic crisis as "symptoms of transition" through alternative narratives and actions can give rise to the potential for (seemingly) short-term pressures to become game changers. Game changers are then defined as the combination of: specific events, the subsequent or... (More)

Continuing economic turbulence has fuelled debates about social and political reform as much as it has stimulated actions and initiatives aimed at a more fundamental transition of dominant economic systems. This paper takes a transition perspective to explore, from a Western European viewpoint, how the economic crisis is actually viewed through a variety of interpretations and responded to through a range of practices. We argue that framing societal phenomena such as the economic crisis as "symptoms of transition" through alternative narratives and actions can give rise to the potential for (seemingly) short-term pressures to become game changers. Game changers are then defined as the combination of: specific events, the subsequent or parallel framing of events in systemic terms by engaged societal actors, and (eventually) the emergence of (diverse) alternative narratives and practices (in response to the systemic framing of events). Game changers, when understood in these terms, help to orient, legitimize, guide, and accelerate deep changes in society. We conclude that such dynamics in which game changers gain momentum might also come to play a critical role in transitions. Therefore, we argue for developing a better understanding of and methodologies to further study the coevolutionary dynamics associated with game changers, as well as exploring the implications for governance.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Economic crisis, Game changers, Narratives of change, Practices of change
in
Ecology and Society
volume
21
issue
4
publisher
The Resilience Alliance
external identifiers
  • scopus:85008149984
  • wos:000391199400020
ISSN
1708-3087
DOI
10.5751/ES-08761-210415
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
3983e77c-2fe8-4096-8960-839a39e41911
date added to LUP
2017-01-13 10:18:26
date last changed
2017-10-29 04:56:38
@article{3983e77c-2fe8-4096-8960-839a39e41911,
  abstract     = {<p>Continuing economic turbulence has fuelled debates about social and political reform as much as it has stimulated actions and initiatives aimed at a more fundamental transition of dominant economic systems. This paper takes a transition perspective to explore, from a Western European viewpoint, how the economic crisis is actually viewed through a variety of interpretations and responded to through a range of practices. We argue that framing societal phenomena such as the economic crisis as "symptoms of transition" through alternative narratives and actions can give rise to the potential for (seemingly) short-term pressures to become game changers. Game changers are then defined as the combination of: specific events, the subsequent or parallel framing of events in systemic terms by engaged societal actors, and (eventually) the emergence of (diverse) alternative narratives and practices (in response to the systemic framing of events). Game changers, when understood in these terms, help to orient, legitimize, guide, and accelerate deep changes in society. We conclude that such dynamics in which game changers gain momentum might also come to play a critical role in transitions. Therefore, we argue for developing a better understanding of and methodologies to further study the coevolutionary dynamics associated with game changers, as well as exploring the implications for governance.</p>},
  articleno    = {15},
  author       = {Loorbach, Derk and Avelino, Flor and Haxeltine, Alex and Wittmayer, Julia M. and O'Riordan, Tim and Weaver, Paul and Kemp, René},
  issn         = {1708-3087},
  keyword      = {Economic crisis,Game changers,Narratives of change,Practices of change},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {12},
  number       = {4},
  publisher    = {The Resilience Alliance},
  series       = {Ecology and Society},
  title        = {The economic crisis as a game changer? Exploring the role of social construction in sustainability transitions},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08761-210415},
  volume       = {21},
  year         = {2016},
}