In search of articulation: A framework to empower transformative innovations



This article problematises the limits of two predominant trends in urban environmentalism: ‘smart’ lifeworld environmentalism and
radical environmental movements. Whereas the former’s reliance on techno-entrepreneurial innovation policy solidifies a structural
conservatism, the latter mostly fail to forge broad alliances beyond a community of like-minded, thereby entrapping social innovations in niches. To overcome these limitations, I draw upon the concept of transformative innovation, a particular understanding of innovation that dialectically links improvements in the economy of everyday life with the challenges of  contemporary social-ecological transformation, the satisfaction of short-term everyday necessities with long-term ecological  imperatives. The ensuing aim of this article is to translate these conceptual reflections on transformative innovation into an heuristic  research framework for place-based development strategies. This framework facilitates (1) identifying place-based everyday  necessities and popular desires that allow for unconventional coalitions, (2) exploring and problematising deeper structures (i.e.  provisioning systems) that enable and constrain their actualisation, and (3) developing discursive strategies to reconfigure relevant  provisioning systems to meet those desired necessities while having the potential to enable more sustainable society-nature relations. While the article is purposely theoretical-conceptual, I draw upon an ongoing case-study analysis in Vienna’s periphery to enrich the framework with concrete examples. 


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Richard Bärnthaler - Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien

How to Cite
Bärnthaler, R. (2022). In search of articulation: A framework to empower transformative innovations. European Journal of Spatial Development, 19(4), 1–24.