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What is protective space? Reconsidering niches in transitions to sustainability
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 09:37 authored by Adrian SmithAdrian Smith, Rob Raven
The transitions literature emphasises the role of niches, defined as a protective space for pathbreakinginnovations. Surprisingly, the concept of protection has not been systematically interrogated. Our analysis identifies protection as having three functions in wider transition processes: shielding, nurturing and empowerment. Empowerment, understood as processes and mechanisms that contribute to changes in mainstream selection environments in ways favourable to the pathbreaking innovation, is considered the least developed in current niche development literature. We argue that these properties need to be understood from an agency perspective, with attention for the politics involved in their realisation. The paper ends with an outlook upon two promising research avenues: 1) the reconstruction of niche development pathways in light of the present framework; 2)analyses of the diverse (political) narratives seeking to empower niches across time and space.
Department affiliated with
- SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications
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