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Policy paradigms as part of the landscape: how do policy paradigms influence attempts to govern transitions

posted on 2023-06-07, 21:03 authored by Florian Kern
Over the last years a fast growing literature developed around the notion of socio-technical systems and the possibilities for governing such systems towards sustainability (Rotmans, Kemp et al. 2001b; Loorbach 2007; Rotmans and Loorbach 2008). Such large scale, structural changes in socio-technical systems have been described as multi-level transitions (Geels 2002). The government is assumed to play an important role in helping these necessary changes to happen. In this paper we argue that the transitions literature so far has underestimated political obstacles to governing transitions. In particular the transitions literature has under-conceptualised landscape level factors. We argue that the work on policy paradigms within political science (Hall 1993) is extremely useful to understand some of the macro-political constraints. The main point we are making is that policy paradigms shape what kinds of interventions are seen as politically acceptable and thereby influence the governance of transitions. The empirical case discussed in this paper to illustrate this argument is the transition towards a more sustainable energy system in the UK.


Publication status

  • Published

Presentation Type

  • paper

Event name

Fourteenth Annual Conference of the International Research Society for Public Management

Event location

Berne, Switzerland

Event type


Event date

April 2010

Department affiliated with

  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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