Policy, polycentrism, and practice : governance imaginaries in sustainability transitions

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SMITH Thomas

Year of publication 2020
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Area
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Web https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/area.12560
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/area.12560
Keywords diverse economies; governance; participation; policy; polycentrism
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Description This paper foregrounds the under - theorised figure of the policy maker in the environmental social sciences. To do so, it focuses on the case of “social practice theory” (SPT), a school of thought which has gained prominence in human geography and further afield in recent years. The paper outlines the context of environmental policy literatures and identifies a tension in many treatments of the topic by practice - oriented scholars: while it focuses on emergent social change, the traditional policy imaginary which has circulated in this literature often portrays benign, top - down policy makers who, given adequate information, are amenable to conducting the right policy “intervention.” A “governance on the inside” approach is proposed as an alternative imaginary, drawing from prominent work on polycentric governance and community economies in geographical and economic scholarship, as well as more recent work in SPT itself. Opportunities for a geographical mapping of policy difference and reflexive engagement are highlighted, hinting at rich future possibilities.
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