Who are the winners and losers of a certain transition? How are costs and benefits of a transition distributed? Is this distribution desirable? And what, if anything, should we as transition scholars do about it? This essay explores how the concept of justice can help transition scholars to grasp and address those questions.
Questions questions around the societal desirability of dynamics and outcomes of processes of change are inherently connected to why transition professionals advocate a certain (direction of a) transition over another, but are barely asked. The answers and preferences often remain implicit, since normativity is perceived as a slippery slope not only in the academic field, but also in the practice of transition management. However, when dealing with transitions one is automatically entangled in moral and ethical questions, e.g. in terms of distributions of costs and benefits and the recognition of different voices.
This DRIFT essay is a first exploratory search into how the concept of justice can help transition scholars to grasp and adequately address the questions around the societal desirability of dynamics and outcomes of transitions. Putting justice more at the forefront of transition thinking and practice opens up and connects questions that address individual choices and behavior as well as systemic critique about issues of equity, social in- and exclusion, and democratic legitimacy. As such it functions as a mediating concept between social, economic and ecological issues in dealing with sustainability transitions. The concept of justice – with all its richness and limitations – can in the end contribute to rethink transitions as political struggles.
Steenbergen, F. van & Schipper, K. (2017). Struggling with justice in transitions [essay].
Download the complete essay here.
December 12, 2017