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‘Energy Regions’: The transformative power of regional discourses on socio-technical futures
University of Freiburg, Germany.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3945-0183
IFZ – Inter-University Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture, University of Klagenfurt, Graz, Austria.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3945-0183
2010 (English)In: Research Policy, ISSN 0048-7333, E-ISSN 1873-7625, Vol. 39, no 4, 449-458 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

‘Guiding visions’ play an important role in the transition management approach as a central means of ‘mobilizing social actors’. The development and social propagation of such visions is an inherently political and contested process involving much strategizing and anticipation of conflict. How is social compliance with such visions achieved? And what effects can such visions, if developed specifically for a small region, have on transitions of a broader scope, e.g. the transition towards a more sustainable energy regime?

Austrian initiatives of regional development called ‘Energy Regions’ are an example for the promotion of such guiding visions of a future energy system (e.g. a set of objectives and means to achieve net regional energy self-reliance by 2015). We scrutinize the regional politics of guiding visions and the interrelation of regional discourse and network building with the developments at other governance levels for instructive lessons about new forms of governance in support of socio-technical transitions towards sustainability.

After identifying some shortcomings of the literature on socio-technical change especially when it comes to conceptualise such discursive and institutional dynamics at various spatial scales, we suggest a combination of concepts from the fields of technology and policy studies to be further integrated into a new approach.

We find that regionally grown ‘guiding visions’ can particularly support certain discourse coalitions by developing ‘translations’ of radical visions into achievable practical solutions (even if these relate to regions particularly ‘privileged’ in this respect), providing visible evidence of their principal feasibility and in effect orienting a broad actor coalition towards an envisaged transition.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2010. Vol. 39, no 4, 449-458 p.
Keyword [en]
Guiding Visions, Transition management, Multi-level framework, Regional Governance, Energy Systems
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-89448DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2010.01.017OAI: diva2:607843
Available from: 2013-02-25 Created: 2013-02-25 Last updated: 2015-03-05

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Späth, PhilippRohracher, Harald
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