The Role of War in Deep Transitions: Exploring Mechanisms, Imprints and Rules in Sociotechnical Systems

43 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2020 Last revised: 17 Aug 2020

See all articles by Philip Johnstone

Philip Johnstone

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU)

Caitriona McLeish

University of Sussex - Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU)

Date Written: March 10, 2020

Abstract

This paper explores in what ways the two world wars influenced the development of sociotechnical systems underpinning the culmination of the first deep transition. The role of war is an underexplored aspect in both the Techno-Economic Paradigms (TEP) approach and the Multi-level perspective (MLP) which form the two key conceptual building blocks of the Deep Transitions (DT) framework. Thus, we develop a conceptual approach tailored to this particular topic which integrates accounts of total war and mechanisms of war from historical studies and imprinting from organisational studies with the DT framework’s attention towards rules and meta-rules. We explore in what ways the three sociotechnical systems of energy, food, and transport were affected by the emergence of new demand pressures and logistical challenges during conditions of total war; how war impacted the directionality of sociotechnical systems; the extent to which new national and international policy capacities emerged during wartime in the energy, food, and transport systems; and the extent to which these systems were influenced by cooperation and shared sacrifice under wartime conditions. We then explore what lasting changes were influenced by the two wars in the energy, food, and transport systems across the transatlantic zone. This paper seeks to open up a hitherto neglected area in analysis on sociotechnical transitions and we discuss the importance of further research that is attentive towards entanglements of warfare and the military particularly in the field of sustainability transitions.

Suggested Citation

Johnstone, Philip and McLeish, Caitriona, The Role of War in Deep Transitions: Exploring Mechanisms, Imprints and Rules in Sociotechnical Systems (March 10, 2020). SWPS 2020-04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3551875 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3551875

Philip Johnstone (Contact Author)

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) ( email )

Mantell Building
Falmer
Brighton BN1 9RH UK, Sussex
United Kingdom

Caitriona McLeish

University of Sussex - Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) ( email )

Brighton, BN1 9SL
United Kingdom

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