The political economy of localization in the transition movement

  • Barnes P
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Abstract

There is a flurry of research activity surrounding the Transition Movement, yet no previous inquiry has examined the movement's political economy. This investigation fills this gap in scholarship by analysing the movement's localization agenda and gives particular emphasis to the implications for political relations between community members and with local governments. Through direct participation with the movement and interviews with Transition activists in the United States, a theoretical picture of an economically and socially localized future is offered. However, when theory is translated into practice, a point of internal tension - functional independence versus government institutionalization - is created in the movement's development strategy. The paper identifies and evaluates a politically active subset of the movement that is seeking to more effectively accelerate and expand the localization process by directly influencing policy making and implementation though local governments. Whereas this heightened level of political activity suggests that some Transition groups are being drawn towards institutionalization, it creates new areas of potential tension. Specifically, if the Transition Movement continues to integrate its political economy into the local community through institutionalized policy making and implementation power, it will become increasingly difficult to maintain and justify its traditional identity as a non-political and socially inclusive movement that avoids divisive political conflict.

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Authors

  • Philip Barnes

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