Elucidating the changing roles of civil society in urban sustainability transitions

Frantzeskaki, Niki, Dumitru, Adina, Anguelovski, Isabelle, Avelino, Flor, Bach, Matthew, Best, Benjamin, Binder, Constanze, Barnes, Jake, Carrus, Giuseppe, Durrant, Rachael and et al, (2017) Elucidating the changing roles of civil society in urban sustainability transitions. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 22. pp. 41-50. ISSN 1877-3435

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Abstract

Understanding the diversifying role of civil society in Europe’s sustainability pathway is a valid proposition both scientifically and socially. Civil society organisations already play a significant role in the reality of cities, what remains to be explored is the question: what is the role of civil society in the future sustainability of European cities? We first examine the novelty of new forms of civil society organization based on a thorough review of recent case studies of civil society initiatives for sustainable transitions across a diversity of European projects and an extensive literature review. We conceptualize a series of roles that civil society plays and the tensions they entail. We argue that, civil society initiatives can pioneer new social relations and practices therefore be an integral part of urban transformations and can fill the void left by a retreating welfare state, thereby safeguarding and servicing social needs but also backing up such a rolling back of the welfare state. It can act as a hidden innovator—contributing to sustainability but remaining disconnected from the wider society. Assuming each of these roles can have unintended effects, such as being proliferated by political agendas, which endanger its role and social mission, and can be peeled off to serve political agendas resulting in its disempowerment and over-exposure. We conclude with a series of implications for future research on the roles of civil society in urban sustainability transitions.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Depositing User: Jacob Peter Barnes
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2017 14:24
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2017 21:20
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/68325

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
ARTS - Accelerating and Rescaling Transitions to Sustainability (DRIFT lead)G1281EUROPEAN UNION603654 - ARTS