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Chapter 2 – Sense-making analysis – discusses the study’s theoretical and methodological foundations from the perspective of dialogical communication theory and the literature on sense-making resources. The chapter discusses the roles of narratives, framing, categorization and metaphors in sense-making. The book’s different empirical materials are described: peer reviewed research literature, policy documents, international media texts and focus group interviews.
Chapter 4 – Global arenas of transformation – analyses how the transformation concept has been used to describe or advocate change towards sustainable development in international contexts. The chapter presents the development of the research field and provides an overview of how sustainability transformations have been approached in the news media in different parts of the world. Media texts also present a range of transformation goals that are of two types: those intended to prevent the risks of environmental degradation and human insecurity, and those that propose ideas on how to attain various sustainable futures. Finally, the chapter explores how sustainability transformations have been conceptualized in international politics, with particular focus on the variations in policy discourse in low–, middle–, and high-income countries, in Agenda 2030 and the Voluntary National Reviews of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement.
Chapter 3 – How societies change – presents some key examples of how historians, anthropologists, economists, and other academics have tried to come to grips with the agents and drivers of previous societal transformations. We cite examples of how the great Western transformation between 1500 and 1900 has been framed in different ways. Furthermore, we present two analogies of transformations: the abolition of slavery, and the replacement of horse transport in cities with automobile transport. This constitutes the basis for a typology of societal transformations based on the system levels and tempo of transformations.
Chapter 6 – Transformation Narratives – discusses narratives of transformations that recur throughout our data sets. We discuss five major ways of conceptualising transformation: as a journey, a building process, a war, co-creation and recuperation. The chapter argues that it is important to unravel core narratives, as they signal different overarching structures in sense-making, connoting different insights into how to address societal challenges.
Chapter 1 – How do we change the world? – presents the rationale of the book, its aim, and scope, introduces key concepts and outlines the state of research on and for transformations toward sustainability. The chapter highlights different calls for sustainability transformations in the United Nations 2030 Agenda, countries’ contributions to the Paris Agreement and subsequent negotiations within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The chapter further discusses the difference between the concepts of transformation and transition. The chapter argues that greater conceptual clarity on sustainability transformations across societies in the world facilitates decision-making and planning in form of democratization, organizational effectiveness and international cooperation.
Chapter 7 – Governing Transformations – outlines ideas and approaches for governing various kinds of transformations, ranging from the transformational leverage of technology, market incentives, strengthening state actions, civil society initiatives, enhanced public education and efforts to shift mindsets to restructuring the economic world order. We present key concepts in governance of transformation and discuss the various governance implications of aspirations for sudden, rapid and profound changes versus proposals for incremental or niche developments. Such policies and measures range from stand-alone unparalleled efforts, intended to activate a tipping point towards transformation, to a series of incremental efforts to gradually accomplish transformation. Moreover, we suggest an analytical framework for transformation governance processes that focuses on scrutinising goals, governance mechanisms, outcomes, target populations, outputs, leverage mechanisms, interventions and institutional frameworks.
Chapter 8 – Our Transforming World – discusses the general conclusions from the book's exploration of stories of societal transformation across the world. In particular, it focuses on the governability of transformations, the system boundaries, the tempo of transformations and the drivers of change, such as technology, political economy, learning, narratives and perspective change. Finally, the chapter points at the interconnectedness of personal, political and practical transformations.
Chapter 5 – Localizing transformations – discusses sense-making regarding societal transformations in selected local arenas: Praia in Cabo Verde, Guangzhou in China, the city of Nadi and a village in the Yasawa Islands in Fiji, Boulder in the USA, and Östergötland region in Sweden. Chapter 5 presents the case study contexts, including their social, cultural, economic, and geopolitical circumstances of societal transformation and how transformation has been addressed in policy documents. The chapter also present the stories of transformation emerging from 20 focus groups with citizens of these five countries treating, for example, the goals of transformation, engines of social change, the role of top–down versus bottom–up initiatives, and the role of values.
Societal transformations are needed across the globe in light of pressing environmental issues. This need to transform is increasingly acknowledged in policy, planning, academic debate, and media, whether it is to achieve decarbonization, resilience, national development plans, or sustainability objectives. This volume provides the first comprehensive comparison of how sustainability transformations are understood across societies. It contains historical analogies and concrete examples from around the world to show how societal transformations could achieve the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through governance, innovations, lifestyle changes, education and new narratives. It examines how societal actors in different geographical, political and cultural contexts understand the agents and drivers of societal change towards sustainability, using data from the academic literature, international news media, lay people's focus groups across five continents, and international politics. This is a valuable resource for academics and policymakers working in environmental governance and sustainability.This is one of a series of publications associated with the Earth System Governance Project. For more publications, see www.cambridge.org/earth-system-governance.
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