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Term Definition

The way of life or set of beliefs accepted by most people. It short, it is the established, common, widespread practice.



The meso-level, or regimes, include the dominant infrastructures and technologies, as well as the current political and economic institutions and the regulatory frameworks. (These factors together comprise the current economic system.)

Narbeshaus, M.; Ashford, C; Buhr, M.; Hanisch, F.; Sengun, K. And Tuncer, B., 2011. Effective change strategies for the Great Transition. Conference backgrond paper, Smart CSOs conference 14-15 March 2011, London. (http://www.smart-csos.org/images/Documents/Smart%20CSOs%20Report%20english.pdf)


The micro-level, or niches, is the arena where socio-technical innovation happens. This is where the seeds of the new economy (innovative models of sustainable life styles, business, political and societal institutions, technology etc.) are being developed and experimented with.

Narbeshaus, M.; Ashford, C; Buhr, M.; Hanisch, F.; Sengun, K. And Tuncer, B., 2011. Effective change strategies for the Great Transition. Conference backgrond paper, Smart CSOs conference 14-15 March 2011, London (http://www.smart-csos.org/images/Documents/Smart%20CSOs%20Report%20english.pdf)

Mitigation (Climate change)

Efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases. Mitigation can mean using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient or changing management practices or consumer behaviour. It can be as complex as a plan for a new city, or as a simple as improvements to a cook stove design. Efforts underway around the world range from high-tech subway systems to bicycling paths and walkways. Protecting natural carbon sinks such as forests and oceans, or creating new sinks through silviculture or green agriculture are also elements of mitigation.

Climate Change Mitigation. United Nations Development Programme (2016)

Multi-level perspective

The Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) is an analytical framework to assess socio-technical transitions along its three constituent levels: niches, regime and landscape. The MLP analyses the multilevel dynamics and describes systemic change via the interdependencies between these levels.


On the micro-level of the MLP, niches embrace small groups of actors characterised by high levels of innovation and the potential to promote disruptive change. Niche constellations are usually unstable and require protected spaces to unfold their innovation potential. Typical examples of socio-technical niches include start-up incubators companies and R&D departments.

Geels, 2012 Geels, 2011 Geels and Schot, 2007


Processes that support the development of the path-breaking innovation. For example: actor network building, developing a shared vision and combining technical and social learning.

Smith and Raven, 2012, p1027


Path dependencies describe the development of systems along historic trajectories. Lock-in mechanisms that emerged from historic developments limit the options for a radical change in future periods.

Geels, 2011

Practice-based knowledge

Practice-base knowledge involves the explanation about the way to get work done and the broad and variety of elements of the know-how that encompass perceptual skills, transitional understandings across time, and understanding of the particular in relation to the general.

Dougherty, D., 2004. Organizing practices in services: capturing practice-based knowledge for innovation. Strategic Organization, 2(1), p35-64.

Radical innovation

Radical novelties that face a mismatch with regard to existing infrastructure, user practices, regulations and so on.

Schot and Geels, 2008, p539


Regimes refer to the dominant actor-networks of a system that are supported by institutional arrangements to protect them against disruptive change. Regimes include moderate political parties, public administration bodies, multinational organisations and mainstream media. At the meso-level of the MLP, regimes are subject to pressures from both the landscape level and the socio-technical niches.

Geels, 2012 Geels 2011 Geels and Schot, 2007


Embedding or 'anchoring' a transition project in dominant ways of organising (structure), doing (practices) and thinking (culture). Examples of 'embedding' are increasing awareness, shifts in thinking, changes in behaviour or routines, changes in infrastructure or financial structures and so on.

Van den Bosch and Rotmans, 2008 http://sus-i.nl/_files/KCT_transitieboekje_02.pdf)


Processes that hold off certain selection pressures from mainstream selection environments. Examples are finding subsidies, beneficial locations or specific market segments.

Smith and Raven, 2012, p1027

Social innovation

The creation of new social relations, involving new ways of doing, organising, framing and knowing. For example, when citiziens organise themselves into a co-operative who jointly own a wind turbine, they create new relations between citizens, energy users and producers.

Kemp et al., 2015: (http://www.transitsocialinnovation.eu/content/original/Book%20covers/Local%20PDFs/182%20TRANSIT%20brief%20no%201.pdf) Avelino et al., 2015 (http://www.transitsocialinnovation.eu/content/original/Book%20covers/180%20TRANSIT_WorkingPaper3_NewEconomy_Avelinoetal_September2015.pdf)


The term sociotechnical is frequently used in transition literature to couple the traditional focus on technology with socio-cultural elements of a system. This includes a reference to the complex, multi-scalar and adaptive interdependencies between the two domains.