Transitions for the People: Theory and Practice of ‘Transition’ and‘Resilience’ in the UK’s Transition Movement
and Gill Seyfang
A paper presented at the 1
European Conference on Sustainability TransitionsAbstract
This paper presents an exploratory case study of a new community-led sustainability initiativein the UK called the Transition movement. In recent months Transition movement groupshave appeared in a significant number of UK towns with the stated aim of responding to thequestion: “how can our community respond to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oiland Climate Change?” [Transition Network 2008]. The originators of the initiative havedeveloped a “comprehensive and creative process” aimed at awareness raising, network building, and, eventually, a community-defined and community-led plan for a transition over a 15-20 year timescale. The parallels to the transition management approach being pioneeredin the Netherlands and elsewhere are immediate and fascinating, but are they merelysuperficial? What are the actual differences and similarities between this emerging civilsociety movement and academic discourse and research on sustainability transitions? Theresilience and transition frameworks are briefly presented as two ways of using a systemsframing to understand, and inform, the governance of social and technical change in thecontext of sustainability. Using a combination of survey results, participant observation anddocumentary sources, we then explore how the terms
are being usedin the discourse of the Transition movement. The paper then explores the similarities anddifferences between how the terms are used in the academic literature versus the Transitionmovement. Finally, the analysis is employed to generate insights about the practical use of thenotions of transition and resilience in civil society contexts that involve “lay practitioners”,and how these insights in turn might inform research on transitions and resilience.
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change ResearchSchool of Environmental Sciences,University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK email@example.com
Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE),School of Environmental Sciences,University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK firstname.lastname@example.org