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'Energy regions': The transformative power of regional discourses on socio-technical futures

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  • Späth, Philipp
  • Rohracher, Harald
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    Abstract

    'Guiding visions' play an important role in the transition management approach as a central means of mobilizing social actors and the co-ordination of dispersed agency. 'Energy regions' in Austria are an interesting example for the strategic promotion of such guiding visions in the context of regional development. We describe the case of Murau, an alpine district in which a strong actor network has been built around a vision of systematically exploiting renewable energy sources and at the same time saving the region from economic decay. The vision gained much authority and has been institutionalised at various levels of regional governance. It furthermore was supported by and played an important role for regime level attempts to influence socio-technical change. Development and social propagation of such visions are inherently political and contested processes involving much strategizing and anticipation of conflict. We describe particular discursive strategies applied in niches - such as the combination and translation of sentiments into localised visions and demonstrations of feasibility. These strategies can be understood as systematic attempts to support discursive shifts at regime level by means of local activities, and aim to modify rather durable power structures. We suggest ways to analyse such discursive practices in order to orient strategic action in the course of such processes: analysing 'guiding visions' and their interference with other emerging trends; extending analyses across spatial scales (e.g. translations) and across thematic fields (e.g. convergence of agendas); and focusing on processes of stabilisation, institutionalisation and mutually reinforcing developments.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

    Volume (Year): 39 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 4 (May)
    Pages: 449-458

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:39:y:2010:i:4:p:449-458

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/respol

    Related research

    Keywords: Guiding visions Transition management Multi-level framework Regional governance Energy systems;

    References

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    1. Editors, 2003. "Editor's Introduction," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 645-648, October.
    2. Smith, Adrian & Stirling, Andy & Berkhout, Frans, 2005. "The governance of sustainable socio-technical transitions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 1491-1510, December.
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    9. Adrian Smith, 2007. "Emerging in between: the multi-level governance of renewable energy in the English regions," SPRU Working Paper Series 159, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    10. Heather Lovell, 2007. "The governance of innovation in socio-technical systems: The difficulties of strategic niche management in practice," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(1), pages 35-44, February.
    11. Heather Lovell & Harriet Bulkeley & Susan Owens, 2009. "Converging agendas? Energy and climate change policies in the UK," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 27(1), pages 90-109, February.
    12. Raven, R. P. J. M., 2004. "Implementation of manure digestion and co-combustion in the Dutch electricity regime: a multi-level analysis of market implementation in the Netherlands," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 29-39, January.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Philipp Späth, 2012. "Understanding the Social Dynamics of Energy Regions—The Importance of Discourse Analysis," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(6), pages 1256-1273, June.
    2. Keith Baker, 2012. "Power failures: metagoverning a revival of nuclear power in Britain," International Journal of Sustainable Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 15(1/2), pages 107-124.
    3. Hansen , Teis & Coenen , Lars, 2013. "The Geography of Sustainability Transitions: A Literature Review," CIRCLE Electronic Working Papers 2013/39, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    4. Friebe, Christian A. & von Flotow, Paschen & Täube, Florian A., 2014. "Exploring technology diffusion in emerging markets – the role of public policy for wind energy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 217-226.
    5. Wirth, Steffen, 2014. "Communities matter: Institutional preconditions for community renewable energy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 236-246.

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