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Flatpack democracy: power and politics at the boundaries of transition

Burnett, A. and Nunes, R. J. ORCID: (2021) Flatpack democracy: power and politics at the boundaries of transition. Environmental Policy and Governance, 31 (3). pp. 223-236. ISSN 1756-932X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/eet.1931


This paper seeks to critically assess how ‘radical’ sustainability approaches that challenge ‘mainstream’ development trajectories – and politics – are crafted and contested within local government. We assess how sustainability transitions scholars have thus far accounted for dimensions of power and politics within socio-political innovations and explore the extent to which these account for how an ‘independent’ group in Frome (Somerset, UK), Independents for Frome (IfF), took control of the town council in 2011 and consolidated a non-party political approach within its administrative functions, referred to as its ‘Flatpack Democracy’ model. The findings reveal the extent of adversarialism within political systems, namely how the capture of local political institutions by ‘protagonists’ affects questions of legitimacy, accountability, or the validation of sustainability agendas through informal institutional capital, such as the role of personal ties and friendships. These debates remain under-theorised where they concern what we term ‘liminal transition spaces’ of transformative power at distinct moments, or instantiations, of transition. That is, there remains a much-needed theoretical debate around the fragile and imperfect processes of democratisation within the everyday politics of transition management.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > Real Estate and Planning
ID Code:95054


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