In the KTI group, socio-technical transitions are frequently analysed with the MLP (multi-level perspective) lens, which was originally proposed by Geels and Schot and has evolved partly as a result of criticisms on its use of agency, politics and power, and the simplified conceptualisation of levels. Central to the seminar is a recent paper by Oscar Svensson and Alexandra Nikoleris (2018) in Research Policy, which elaborates on this critical discussion with the MLP perspective, and emphasises its ontological foundations and methodological implications.
The authors look for better ways to explain the emergence, nature and direction of transitions. In this effort, they brings us back to structure and outline an approach with its foundations in critical realist philosophy of science. It resonates with the effort to combine theories to analyse the regime level in terms of degree of structuration in the book edited by Sietze Vellema (2011) and more recently by Lea Fuenschilling and Bernhard Truffer (2014 and 2016). Svensson and Nikoleris aim to find a way to explain why a phenomenon happens and to search for mechanisms and conditions that explain this. The seminar tries to encourage a critical reflection on our ways of presenting and analysing socio-technical transitions and to explore possibilities for advancing our explanatory powers.
The purpose of a reading seminar is to jointly read, review and critique papers that have relevance for the diversity of research projects in our groups and section. Participants are expected to read the paper and critically engage with the discussion that is briefly introduced at the start of the seminar.
Reading: Svensson, O., & Nikoleris, A. (2018). Structure reconsidered: Towards new foundations of explanatory transitions theory. Research Policy, 47(2), 462-473. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2017.12.007
Fuenfschilling, L., & Truffer, B. (2014). The structuration of socio-technical regimes—Conceptual foundations from institutional theory. Research Policy, 43(4), 772-791. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2013.10.010
Fuenfschilling, L., & Truffer, B. (2016). The interplay of institutions, actors and technologies in socio-technical systems—An analysis of transformations in the Australian urban water sector. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 103, 298-312. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2015.11.023
Vellema S. (2011) Transformation and sustainability in agriculture: connecting practice with social theory. In: Vellema S. (ed.) Transformation and sustainability in agriculture. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen.