What is protective space? Reconsidering niches in transitions to sustainability

Smith, Adrian and Raven, Rob (2012) What is protective space? Reconsidering niches in transitions to sustainability. Research Policy, 41 (6). pp. 1025-1036. ISSN 0048-7333

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The transitions literature emphasises the role of niches, defined as a protective space for pathbreakinginnovations. Surprisingly, the concept of protection has not been systematically interrogated. Our analysis identifies protection as having three functions in wider transition processes: shielding, nurturing and empowerment. Empowerment, understood as processes and mechanisms that contribute to changes in mainstream selection environments in ways favourable to the pathbreaking innovation, is considered the least developed in current niche development literature. We argue that these properties need to be understood from an agency perspective, with attention for the politics involved in their realisation. The paper ends with an outlook upon two promising research avenues: 1) the reconstruction of niche development pathways in light of the present framework; 2)analyses of the diverse (political) narratives seeking to empower niches across time and space.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Adrian Smith
Date Deposited: 08 May 2013 10:32
Last Modified: 08 May 2013 10:32
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/30692
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