An Exploration into Learning Processes in Networked and Community-led Sustainability Experimentations

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Abstract

Experimentation has a crucial role in sustainability transitions; experiments provide means of addressing complex sustainability problems through iterative prototyping and testing of promising interventions, evaluating and learning from outcomes, thus paving the way for identifying new socio-technical practices that can be effective in achieving transitions. What counts as an experiment in the context of sustainability transitions is up for debate. While some argue that only systematically and on-purpose set-up (mostly researcher-led) empirical cases can be regarded as experiments, others regard established or emerging, community-led initiatives as experiments. The former type has been subject of research in the past decade more frequently than the latter type. While we consider on-purpose experimental set-ups as valuable, we propose that community-led initiatives provide opportunities for researchers to explore the dynamics of sustainability experimentation in its entire social, technological, economic and political complexity. With this being our position, in this article we explore the dynamics within and between a selected set of eco-settlements and the formal and informal networks they are part of. We analyse these dynamics using theoretical and analytical models from system innovations and transitions theories and social practice theory to understand the enablers of social and technological learning in eco-settlements and diffusion of such learning across the networks they are part of. The research is undertaken following an ethnographic methodological framework and situational analysis.

Implications of this research: The main theoretical implication is generation of insights that may strengthen the bridge between two highly-relevant yet somewhat isolated theoretical bodies of work, namely sustainability transition theories and social practice theory. The practical implications include a more in-depth understanding of how social change happens in complex real-life socio-technical niches through peer-to-peer and multi-level interactions, therefore development of policies and interventions that take into account such complexity.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
EventLeverage Points Conference - Luneburg, Germany
Duration: 5 Feb 20198 Feb 2019
http://leveragepoints2019.leuphana.de/

Conference

ConferenceLeverage Points Conference
CountryGermany
CityLuneburg
Period05/02/201908/02/2019
Internet address

ID: 32185960