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Lost in Transitions: Analyzing Sectoral Transitions in Postcolonial Developing Island States, Investigating Theoretical and Practical Gaps in Sustainability Transitions Theory

Tzachor, Asaf; (2019) Lost in Transitions: Analyzing Sectoral Transitions in Postcolonial Developing Island States, Investigating Theoretical and Practical Gaps in Sustainability Transitions Theory. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The theory of Sustainability Transitions, a current concept that has a relevance for both policy and academic thinking, attempts to explain fundamental structural changes in individual economic sectors and in societies at large. Yet, its application outside developed industrialized societies, where the theory originated, has been limited. More research is required on the applicability of transition approaches in developing states. This study attends to this constraint by examining the explanatory power of the main theoretical tenets of sustainability transitions in the contexts of the agricultural and extractive sectors of the postcolonial developing island states of Nauru, Jamaica and Sri Lanka, which extends the geographical and historical terrain of the theory. An empirical survey of 180 individuals, participant observations, archival research, a review of 536 books and articles, in 9 fieldwork missions and some 50 research sites, provides a canvas broad enough to test Sustainability Transitions epistemology and hypotheses with local communities of knowledge: its theoretical scope – levels and units of analysis, its transition causation mechanisms, its validity outside its origin-context in developed countries, and, by extension, to establish whether or not its universal assumptions are justified. Drawing on a comprehensive multi-sectoral analysis, this study illustrates that when deployed in the context of developing countries, specifically in postcolonial island states, the multi-level perspective is deficient. While the analytical framework is useful to some extent, it falls short to provide an inclusive explanation of what drives sectoral changes in developing island states and its epistemology is not fully-representative of sectoral and societal transitions in unindustrialized island societies. The theory does not adequately consider the role of government, or agency; it fails to define the notion of sustainability in applicable, operational terms; it overemphasizes the role of niches and radical innovation networks in sectoral change processes while underemphasizing the rigidity of dominant socio-technical regimes; it offers neither a normative model nor a valid descriptive model of sectoral transformations, and therefore, subscribes no instrument for policy analysis and policy design. Further research is essential to examine whether or not these theoretical limitations are observable in other developing states, and in such event, further refinements of sustainability transitions analytical tools should be warranted.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Lost in Transitions: Analyzing Sectoral Transitions in Postcolonial Developing Island States, Investigating Theoretical and Practical Gaps in Sustainability Transitions Theory
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10078600
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