Deep Transitions: Emergence, Acceleration, Stabilization and Directionality
33 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2016
Date Written: September 2, 2016
The unfolding of industrial modernity has led to high levels of wealth and welfare in the Western world but also to increasing global ecological degradation and social inequality. The routine mode of operation of a wide range of socio-technical systems, forming the material backbone of contemporary societies, has substantially contributed to these outcomes. This paper proposes that all these systems can be seen as a surface expression of fundamental meta-rules that for the past 250 years have driven the evolution of these systems and system innovation towards particular directions, thereby constituting the First Deep Transition. To meet the accumulated social and ecological challenges would therefore require a radical change not only in socio-technical systems but also in meta-rules underlying their functioning – the Second Deep Transition. This paper develops a new theoretical framework aiming to explain the emergence, acceleration, stabilization and directionality of Deep Transitions. It does so through the synthesis of three strands of literature: individual socio-technical systems, interconnected systems and industrialization-related macro-trends.
Keywords: sustainability transitions, long-term change, socio-technical systems, industrial modernity
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