Browsing by Subject "sustainability transitions"

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  • Isoaho, Karoliina Laila Hannele; Karhunmaa, Kamilla Mari Amanda (2019)
    This article critically reviews the use of discursive approaches in studies of sustainable energy transitions. The review is motivated by calls to further incorporate social scientific methodologies into energy research and assess their contribution to policy. We strive to answer three questions: (1) which discursive approaches have been used to study sustainable energy transitions; (2) what thematic topics and issue areas have been covered and (3) what is the added value of discursive research designs? Our analysis is based on a review of 77 articles from the years 2004–2016. Our findings show that discursive approaches were mostly used to analyse institutional change and policy strategies at the national level and to examine energy choices through political ideology and the perceptions of publics. Nuclear power received most coverage, while renewable energy technologies were mainly studied through conflicts and opposition. We demonstrate discursive research designs to examine four distinct policy areas and discuss the added value of these approaches for energy policy and research. Discursive methodologies enable scholars to enrich policy discussions through accounting for transitions as complex and dynamic processes of change.
  • Kallio, Liisa; Heiskanen, Eva; Apajalahti, Eeva-Lotta; Matschoss, Kaisa (2020)
    This study focuses on how a hybrid actor challenges dominant expectations about markets and rules by creating a novel business model, Farm Power, that links locally produced small-scale renewable energy directly with energy end-users. We explore the potential of Farm Power to influence the energy transition by studying how the business model is interpreted and given meaning by different actors. Drawing on the conceptual framework of institutional anchoring, this paper identifies emerging storylines that reflect expectations related to the institutionalized beliefs, values and rules governing the energy market in Finland. The implications of our results are that while the business model challenges dominant expectations of cheap and anonymous electricity, it also legitimates the notion of market-based energy transitions and that the role of hybrid actors in initiating change in the energy sector deserves more attention.
  • Kivimaa, Paula; Primmer, Eeva; Lukkarinen, Jani (Elsevier, 2020)
    Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 36: 418-432
    The roles of intermediaries in sustainability transitions are increasingly recognised. How intermediaries advance transitions vis-a-vis public policy has, however, received little attention. Thus, we create an analytical framework of intermediating policy processes, drawing from transition and policy cycle literatures. We apply this to investigate two policy processes pertaining to Finland’s building energy efficiency. The findings show how the central role of the Ministry of the Environment and high political attention have reduced the need for intermediation by external organisations in agenda setting and policy formulation. However, intermediaries external to the Ministry have been vital in facilitating policy implementation. The cases show that facilitating training as an intermediary activity can be undertaken by different organisations, such as a trade union, a government agency or an education committee. Based on our analysis, we argue that, when political attention on transitions is low, the need for intermediary action is likely to be higher.
  • Laitinen, Anna-Emilia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Current food production and consumption practices have major impacts on the climate and the environment. Studies are calling for a transition towards plant-based diets as climate change poses an imminent threat of global natural catastrophes. Plant-based milk (PBM) products can be seen as radical innovations and as alternatives to liquid dairy milk that have started to break away from their former ethical and medical market niches. This study aims to gain understanding in how PBM products are positioned as alternatives to dairy milk and how the mainstreaming of these products could challenge the dairy sector. Specifically, the study is interested in how Finnish PBM products are marketed and how these PBM producers could be potential drivers of a sustainability transition in the food industry. This study focused on the digital marketing material that Finnish PBM producers used during the initial launch of their PBM products. The materials were collected online from existing and locatable sources (e.g. websites and social networking spaces) as well as from solicited material acquired from company representatives. The data was analyzed by conducting qualitative content analysis on the materials. The results showed that Finnish PBMs are marketed as alternative yet convenient products that are simultaneously health, tasty, and functional, as well as sustainable and plant-based. Even though Finnish producers were found to be hesitant to explicitly challenge the dairy sector, some brands positioned their products as part of a new food system that is transitioning away from the use of animal-products. These results suggest that the mainstreaming of Finnish PBMs and specifically oat milk is a positive shift towards more sustainable modes of production and consumption. Furthermore, the involvement of well-established food and dairy industry actors in the Finnish PBM market could have a role in reforming the institutional structures that empower people to eat animal-derived products. The seemingly neutral, non-provocative marketing style of Finnish PBM products is aiming to normalize the use of PBMs and thus claim its spot in Finnish food culture as an everyday consumer good.