The political economy of socio-technical transitions: A relational view of the state and bus system decarbonization in the United Kingdom

Iraklis Argyriou*, John Barry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper addresses a research (specifically conceptual) gap in socio-technical transitions literature on transport decarbonization: namely, a lack of attention to the state as a defining and constitutive element of any system-wide transition processes. Adopting an explicitly interdisciplinary approach, it develops a conceptual framework that places the state and relations between it and key transportation actors as critical for understanding the dynamics of low-carbon public transport transformations. In so doing, it articulates two political economic dimensions that offer a more relational view of the nature and role of the state in transitions. These are firstly, an historical understanding of state approaches to transition interventions and regulation, and secondly the multiple sites and forms of power through which the state mediates transition relations. In light of the framework, it introduces the UK bus transition as a case study, and offers some preliminary insights on the role and function of the state in transportation transitions. On the one hand, a policy prioritization on ‘greening the car’ within the context of protecting ‘business as usual’ significantly limits bus-based transportation transition prospects. On the other hand, sub-national processes around devolution that embody logics of greater public control of bus networks are found to have transformative potential and questioning existing power relations. The paper concludes by identifying the importance of an interdisciplinary and problem-solving oriented transition research analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102174
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Volume79
Early online date13 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support for this work provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for the research project ‘Prosperity Partnership: Roadmaps to Zero Net Emissions in Urban Public Transport’ [grant number EP/S036695/1]. The authors are also thankful to four anonymous referees for their valuable comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. Figure 1 is drawn from the work 'J. Transp. Geogr., 24, F.W. Geels, A socio-technical analysis of low-carbon transitions: introducing the multi-level perspective into transport studies, 471-482, Copyright Elsevier (2012)'. We would also like to acknowledge that Figure 1, as provided in [13], has been adapted from F.W. Geels, Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: a multi-level perspective and a case-study, Res. Policy. 31 (2002) 1257-1274.

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support for this work provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for the research project ?Prosperity Partnership: Roadmaps to Zero Net Emissions in Urban Public Transport? [grant number EP/S036695/1]. The authors are also thankful to four anonymous referees for their valuable comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. Figure 1 is drawn from the work 'J. Transp. Geogr. 24, F.W. Geels, A socio-technical analysis of low-carbon transitions: introducing the multi-level perspective into transport studies, 471-482, Copyright Elsevier (2012)'. We would also like to acknowledge that Figure 1, as provided in [13], has been adapted from F.W. Geels, Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: a multi-level perspective and a case-study, Res. Policy. 31 (2002) 1257-1274.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright:
Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Bus
  • Decarbonization
  • Political economy
  • Socio-technical transitions
  • State
  • UK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The political economy of socio-technical transitions: A relational view of the state and bus system decarbonization in the United Kingdom'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this