3S Working Paper 2016-29 Seyfang & Gilbert-Squires – Sustainable Banking Transitions

This paper presents and tests a new conceptual framework for understanding sustainable transitions in sociotechnical systems. We apply this in the first ever study of sustainable transitions in the UK retail banking system which has suffered recently from banking crises, and links to environmentally-sensitive industries such as fossil fuels. Sustainability-focused values-based banks are a potential solution, but have had little impact on mainstream banking systems. Our study investigates these initiatives using a new approach which identifies the intersections between transitions in regimes (using the multi-level perspective MLP) and transitions in practices (using social practice theory SPT), two competing conceptual frameworks in the literature. We ask: what are the intersections between transitions in the banking regime and banking practices, and how may critical points of constraint be unlocked to become points of opportunity, thereby aiding a transition to more sustainable banking systems? We present new empirical findings from a mixed-method case study of the UK banking sector and two values-based banks in particular. We conduct twin analyses of sustainable banking through MLP and SPT lenses, before combining the two approaches to reveal critical points of intersection. Interventions for sustainable banking growth are identified and we aim to demonstrate the added-value of the combined approach through indicating strategies for unlocking the transformative potential of sustainable innovations.

Seyfang, G. and Gilbert-Squires, A. (2016) Move Your Money? Sustainability Transitions In Regimes And Practices In The Uk Retail Banking Sector 3S Working Paper 2016-29. Norwich: Science, Society and Sustainability Research Group.

3S WP 2016-29