Capitalism in sustainability transitions research: Time for a critical turn?

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Sustainability transition research (STR) has failed to engage in any significant analyses or critiques of capitalism. This article argues that capitalism is not a ‘landscape’ factor, but rather permeates the workings of socio-technical systems in ways that must be recognised both for elaborating rigorous accounts of transition trajectories and for enhancing the capacity of STR to support future societal sustainability transitions. This argument is developed specifically in relation to the three challenges of STR: the analysis of the actual sustainability of sustainability transitions, the application of transition theory to cases in the Global South, and the move towards a forward-looking STR. The article identifies three main implications of this argument with respect to interdisciplinarity, the validity of current theoretical frameworks, and the practice of STR. Ultimately, the article invites STR scholars to be more openly reflexive not only about possible theoretical biases, but also regarding their own roles in society.




Feola, G. (2019). Capitalism in sustainability transitions research: Time for a critical turn? Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions.

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