3S WP 2012-07 North Longhurst – Beyond the rural idyll: political strategies of urban ‘Transition’ initiatives

This paper engages with the progressive politics of climate change and resource constraint developed in the UK and elsewhere by the Transition initiatives ‘movement’ which looks to develop a positive local politics of the transition to a low carbon economy and society. The paper argues firstly that Transitions strengths are in raising issues and developing visions for a low carbon world based on conceptions of social change that focus on the ability of community-based grassroots actors to make the changes they want to see, although more widespread, concrete examples of transition are harder to identify. To illustrate these issues the paper engages first with the politics of engagement with other partners in urban settings, and secondly with local institution building. The paper concludes by arguing that a wider local politics of transition needs to be developed that can oversee a fundamental reorganisation of carbon intensive economies that goes beyond community- based initiatives. Through a close attention to scale, a more systematic, thoroughgoing local politics of transition might gain more traction in cities than in the smaller towns it currently flourishes in.

North, P. and Longhurst, N. (2012) Beyond the rural idyll: political strategies of urban ‘Transition’ initiatives. 3S Working Paper 2012-07. Norwich: Science, Society and Sustainability Research Group.

3S WP 2012-07 North and Longhurst