Never Saw It Coming

Karen Cerulo’s book Never Saw It Coming: Cultural Challenges to Envisioning the Worst is an interesting sociological book which considers the socio-cultural practices and other factors that influence whether worst case scenarios have a sufficiently prominent place in thinking and planning. The analysis is mostly focussed on the United States of America. Cerulo analysis proposes …

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Contemplating the tensions between scholarship and activism

Whilst many people would argue that there aren’t unsolvable tensions between scholarship and activism I’ve sometimes found that there are tensions. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about regarding future career options and directions. I was also stimulated to revisit this line of thought by a fascinating talk given by the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt …

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What is meant by the politics of sustainability transitions?

The latest issue of the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning is a special issue on “The Politics of Transition” (link). In the introductory essay the special issue editors argue that sustainability transitions “involve politics in the broadest sense of the word”. They cite a broad conceptualisation of politics – proposed by Adrian Leftwich in …

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Some reflections on IST 2016

The International Sustainability Transitions conference (the annual conference of the Sustainability Transitions Research Network) was held earlier this month in Wuppertal, Germany. Wuppertal turned out to be an interesting place to hold this conference. This part of Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia) is an industrial region – one presenter claimed that the region produces 10% of the …

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Theories of expectations and sustainability-oriented research

Last year I discovered Jens Beckert’s research on the role of fictional expectations in the economy.  Beckert interestingly contrasts the concept of fictional expectations with notion of rational expectations in economic theory, and in his recently published book Imagined Futures: Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics he further develops a sociological theory of expectations.  Beckert’s work …

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Expectations as a focus of politics in sustainability transitions

The question of “exactly how politics should be theorised and brought into analysis of sustainability transitions” (Lockwood 2016) has been raised by sustainability transition researchers. This post is a research memo (written as part of my doctoral research) which considers a key question: should those examining politics in sustainability transitions pay more attention to expectations …

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The problem with “transition management”

As noted in other recent posts I’ve been familiarising myself with an emerging field of research called sustainability transitions research (e.g. here, here). ‘Transition management’ (TM) is one approach that has been explored and researched at the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT). I’ve noted the concept of transition management in some of my papers …

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Some comments on Inayatullah’s new book ‘What Works: Case Studies in the Practice of Foresight’

Sohail Inayatullah recently published a new book which has the bold title What Works: Case Studies in the Practice of Foresight. The book provides an overview of Inayatullah’s approach to futures studies (the “six pillars” approach) but the core of the book is nine case studies, three chapters on methodological innovations, and an effort to …

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