Sustainability transitions: a discourse-institutional approach
Audley Genus – Kingston University
The paper considers problems and possibilities connected with governing and realising the ‘transition to sustainability’ – or at least a more deeply resilient energy system. Conceptually its focus is on institutional and discourse analysis and the development of a discourse-institutional perspective of the transition to sustainability. The first strand of the paper outlines the potential insights that may be derived from adopting an approach based on a more thoroughgoing appreciation and application of Scott’s (2008) work on neo-institutional theory and its relevance to the study of ‘organization fields’. The paper builds on the observation that there has been little explicit consideration let alone analysis of the carriers and processes of institutionalisation and their implication in the mechanisms of institutional creation, entrepreneurship, persistence or change. The second strand of the paper concerns discourse, recognising that, fundamentally, institutions are constituted in texts, discursive practices and social structures which frame the possibilities considered available and legitimate for governance. The paper makes suggestions regarding future research agenda and strategies, for the further development of a discourse-institutional approach and our understanding of practical issues connected with sustainability transitions, innovation and policy.
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