Green niches in sustainable development: the case of organic food in the UK

Smith, Adrian (2006) Green niches in sustainable development: the case of organic food in the UK. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 24 (3). pp. 439-458. ISSN 0263-774X

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Strategic niche management is a recently developed policy approach which advocates claim, is important in seeding radical transformations in sociotechnical regimes, and transitions to environmentally sustainable regimes in particular. This paper examines a critically important aspect of this approach: the relationship between radically novel sociotechnical practices in niches and the mainstream social – technical regimes they seek to influence. Although the literature notes the significance of this relationship, it does so in a paradoxical way. It is argued that niches are more likely to influence mainstream change when they show a degree of compatibility with the incumbent regime. Yet this compatibility criterion blunts the scope for niches to be radically innovative, thereby undermining the degree of regime transformation being sought. The case of organic food is used to explore this paradox empirically. The history of the organic niche, and its engagement and entanglement with the mainstream food regime, suggests a dialectical relationship between sociotechnical niches and regimes.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Depositing User: Adrian Smith
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:40
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2012 08:50
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