Capturing the micro-level of intermediation in transitions: Comparing ethnographic and interview methods

Pekka Murto*, Sampsa Hyysalo, Jouni K. Juntunen, Mikko Jalas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


To date, a major portion of sustainability transition research has relied on retrospective methods to generate encompassing macro-level views of transitions. However, such methods may have considerable impacts on the insights generated in the study of intermediation, action and agency by actors on the micro-level of transitions. In this article, we compare retrospective interviews and real-time ethnography to understand how they portray micro-level transition processes and intermediation. The empirical context of our study is energy retrofitting, which we use to illustrate three structural and three process aspects that distinguish the findings from retrospective interviewing and real-time ethnography. Ethnographic methods can provide significant new detail on the uncertainty and complexity of micro-level transition processes while interviews facilitate cross-case comparison and understanding of commonalities in micro-level transition intermediation processes better.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-417
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Early online date31 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Intermediaries
  • Intermediation
  • Qualitative research
  • Research methods
  • Sustainability transition


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