Reconfiguring Urban Sustainability Transitions, Analysing Multiplicity

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Cities, and the networked infrastructures that sustain urban life, are seen as crucial sites for creating more sustainable futures. Yet, although there are many plans, the realisation of sustainable urban infrastructures on the ground is uneven. To develop better ways of understanding why this is the case, the paper makes a conceptual contribution by engaging with current understanding of urban sustainability transitions, using urban sustainable mobility as a reference point. It extends these insights to argue that urban transitions are not about technological or social innovation per se, but about how multiple innovations are experimented with, combined and reconfigured in existing urban contexts and how such processes are governed. There are potentially many ways in which urban sustainable mobility can be reconfigured contextually. Innovation is in the particular form of reconfiguration rather than individual technologies. To make analytical sense of this multiplicity, a preliminary framework is developed that offers the potential to think about urban transitions as contextual and reconfigurational. We argue that there is a need to embrace multiplicity and to understand its relationships to forms of reconfiguration, through empirical exploration and further theoretical and conceptual development. The preliminary framework is a contribution to doing so and we set out future directions for research.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2017


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