Sustainable Waste Systems and Practices

The challenge of managing and reducing domestic waste is a growing sustainability problem for governments and Local Authorities. This project investigates the inter-relationships between domestic waste systems, everyday social practices, and householders’ waste reduction and recycling activities. It will make a major contribution to reconceptualising domestic waste activities and thus help to design and implement…

Crisis as Opportunity? An ethnographic case-study of the post-capitalist possibilities of Crisis Community Currency Movements (PhD project)

A growing body of scholarship suggests that capitalism is not inevitable and that moments of crisis provide an opportunity for critique and social transformation towards sustainability. Yet literature on social movements employing direct-action tactics to unmake capitalism and challenge austerity in the wake of the ongoing economic crisis is still lacking. It has neither adequately…

Jellyfish Bloom Risk and Management Implications in Northern Europe (PhD Project)

Large concentrations of jellyfish are increasingly being recorded worldwide. The main drivers of this are hypothesised to be as a result of increasing ocean temperatures and increases in prey availability. These factors are often influenced by anthropogenic activities that alter the characteristics of the oceans in favour of gelatinous zooplankton. The impacts of a bloomed…

Coastal change in Norfolk: The contribution of visualizations to decision making (PhD Project)

Many communities along the Norfolk coast have historically, and more recently, seen changes to their landscapes. Significant changes are likely in the future, especially in areas where coastal erosion is evident. The way these changes are communicated and the level of community engagement in the decision making process on how to deal with current and…

Governance of Social Practice for Sustainability (PhD Project)

Social practice theory is a relatively young field of scholarship in social science and has a lot to offer in terms of describing the actions of individuals and communities –  particularly with regards to mundane situations or everyday live. To date there has not been a lot of work done on the governance of practices…

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…

3S Working Paper 2016-28 Longhurst & Chilvers – Mapping Diverse Visions of UK Energy Transitions

The need to rapidly decarbonise the energy systems which underpin modern societies is widely accepted, yet there is also growing criticism of ‘top down’, technocentric transition visions. Transitions are, such critics claim, unpredictable, contested, and comprise of multiple and competing perspectives. This paper opens up to diverse visions of UK energy transitions by studying a…

New paper: Participation in Transition(s)

In a new open access paper in the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning Jason Chilvers and Noel Longhurst set out a new framework that reconceives public and civil society engagement in energy transitions as co-produced, relational and emergent. The paper speaks to the urgent challenge of transitioning to sustainable low carbon energy systems and debates…

3S Working Paper 2015-27 Chilvers & Longhurst – A Relational Co-productionist Approach to Sociotechnical Transitions

In this paper we develop an approach to sociotechnical change that is grounded in relational and co-productionist theories from science and technology studies (STS) and wider social theory. This is a constructive project to further develop and advance understandings and explanations of actor dynamics and sociotechnical change. In doing so we propose a new relational…

New research briefing on Unleashing Grassroots Innovations

A newly-published research briefing discusses how we can unleash the transformative power of grassroots innovations, looking in particular at community currencies. Unleashing Grassroots Innovations: A Quest For Community Currency Growth How can grassroots innovations grow, achieve their potential, and increase their influence? Gill Seyfang presents findings of a 3-year quest to learn about diffusing community currencies.…

Unleashing Grassroots Innovations for Sustainability

The quest for sustainability’s holy grail will be the subject of a keynote presentation by Gill Seyfang (3S, UEA) at the European Society for Ecological Economics 2015 conference. Her challenge is to find the key to unleashing the transformative potential of grassroots innovations, such as sustainable money, food, energy, housing, transport and food systems, whose…

What’s the meaning of smart? Sociotechnical report

‘What’s the meaning of smart? A study of smart grids’ is  a report from a multidisciplinary study conducted by Nigel Hargreaves, Jason Chilvers and Tom Hargreaves. The report contends that to be smart, electricity grids have to not only be consistent with current infrastructures and other technologies in a technical sense, but also encourage engagement and adoption by end-users. A…

3S WP 2014-26 Chilvers and Longhurst – Co-production and emergence of diverse public engagements in energy transitions

The field of sustainability transitions research has a strong theoretical emphasis on the sites and modes of intervention in socio‐technical systems, with the intention of informing the purposive ‘steering’ of the system. For critics, questions of power and politics are often obscured in what, it is argued, are optimistic and technocratic transition mechanisms. In addition,…

3S WP 2013-23 Wilson et al – Using Smart Homes

Published research on smart homes and their users is growing exponentially, yet a clear understanding of who these users are and how they might use smart home technologies is missing from a field being overwhelmingly pushed by technology developers. Drawing on a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed literature on smart homes and their users, this…

3S WP 2013-22 Jensen – Social practices in energy-related transitions?

Reducing energy consumption from lighting is, in policy making, largely treated as a matter ofoptimizing the individual lighting product. However, this paper argues that since lighting is a highly cultural, historical and socio-material phenomenon, energy efficient (or intensive) lighting patterns evolve from something more and something else than what the individual lighting product provides. This is an…

3S WP 2013-21 Seyfang et al – A Grassroots Sustainable Energy Niche? Reflections on community energy case studies

System-changing innovations for sustainability transitions are proposed to emerge in radical innovative niches. ‘Strategic Niche Management’ theory predicts that niche-level actors and networks will aggregate learning from local projects, distilling and disseminating best practice. This should lower the bar for new projects to form and establish, thereby encouraging the innovation to diffuse through replication. Within…

3S WP 2012-12 Hargreaves et al Exploring the role of intermediaries in UK community energy: grassroots innovations and niche development

Multiple sustainability challenges are increasingly seen as demanding a fundamental transition in the energy system. In this context, community energy projects attract interest as sources for radical innovations. Studies of such bottom-up, civil society-led ‘grassroots innovations’, however, frequently highlight the profound challenges they face in growing, diffusing or even simply surviving. Strategic niche management SNM)…

3S WP 2012-11 Seyfang et al – Community energy in the UK

Community energy has been proposed as a new policy tool to help achieve the transition to a low- carbon energy system, but the evidence base for this strategy is partial and fragmented. We therefore present new empirical evidence from the first independent UK-wide survey of community energy projects. Our survey investigates the objectives, origins and…

3S WP 2012-10 Seyfang Longhurst – Grassroots innovation for sustainability: A niche analysis of community currencies

Over the last decade, the nascent field of Sustainability Transitions has sought to explain the conditions under which technological innovations can diffuse and disrupt existing socio-technical systems through the successful scaling up of experimental ‘niches’. Building on this pioneering work, recent research on ‘grassroots innovations’ argues that civil society is a promising but under- researched…

3S WP 2012-08 Bucio et al – Energy densities: why do they matter for sustainability?

Immoderate institutional focus on CO2 emissions tends to obscure the energy-density challenge implied by the low-carbon economy transition. Such an attention deficit is often apparent in the sustainability transitions literature in general and in the multi-level perspective (MLP) in particular. The latter characterises the comparatively “benign” conditions of industrial societies which, riding the upside of…

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…

3S WP 2012-02 Seyfang and Longhurst – Money, Money, Money? A Scoping Study of Grassroots Complementary Currencies for Sustainability

As a response to the unsustainability of current global financial systems, parallel sustainable monetary systems are being developed by civil society groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), informed by ecological economics perspectives on development, value, economic scale and growth. These parallel systems of exchange (or grassroots complementary currencies) are designed to promote sustainable development, by localising…

Participation, politics and actor dynamics in low carbon energy transitions

This report comes from a Transition Pathways to a Low Carbon Economy workshop which took place 21-22 March 2012. The workshop aimed to develop a more comprehensive system-wide exploration of the diverse forms and sites of participation in low carbon energy transitions, and to build on this broader conception of participation to explore actor dynamics, inclusion…