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Diversifying deep transitions

Accounting for socio-economic directionality


Kemp, R., Pel, B., Scholl, C., & Boons, F. (2022), Diversifying Deep Transitions: Accounting for socio-economic directionality; Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, Volume 44, September 2022, 110-124

ABSTRACT: The paper sets out to enrich the emerging debate on ‘deep’, transversal transitions. It does so by drawing attention to socio-economic developments neglected in the Deep Transition (DT) framework of Kanger and Schot, such as marketization, labour contracts becoming more individual and precarious, and changing human beliefs, aspirations, needs and wants as important developments. The framework of Deep Transition is criticised for neglecting tensions and contestations about progress, the socio-economic order and distributional issues. This paper aims to complement ‘deep transitions’ research with insights about socio-economic transformation processes. These are shown to be conflict-ridden and full of tensions, creating pressures on socio-economic orders and institutional logics. Because of this, development does not follow a neat pattern of convergence. In addition to identifying neglected issues and conceptual blind spots, the paper also outlines the scope for conceptual bridging between socio-technical and socio-economic transformation perspectives through attention to institutional logics and dialectics of change. We make a plea for a broader DT research agenda that covers relevant socio-economic rules, meta-regimes and institutional contradictions. Attention to directionality helps to deal with three weaknesses of the DT framework: the assumption of convergence, materialism, and insufficient attention to the multitude of value orientations and logics.

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