Grassroots innovations study produces prize-winning paper

Academics from the University of East Anglia’s research group 3S (Science, Society and Sustainability) have won a prize for their paper on the role of the Transition Towns network in the shift to more sustainable energy systems.

The British Sociological Association’s Climate Change Study Group awarded the paper joint-second prize in its 2012 competition for the best article addressing any aspect of the sociology of climate change that had been published in a peer-reviewed journal between 2010 and 2012.

Gill SeyfangDSC05171 and Alex Haxeltine’s paper entitled ‘Growing Grassroots Innovations: exploring the role of community-based social movements for sustainable energy transitionswas published in Environment and Planning C, where it also received the accolade of ‘editor’s choice’ for the best paper in the issue.

The paper makes two important contributions to understanding how civil society can help to respond to climate change. The first is through presenting results from the first national survey of the UK Transition Towns movement, which aims to galvanise grassroots activism to reduce oil dependency. The second is by applying innovation theory to investigate the movement’s potential to diffuse and expand its influence and reach into wider society.

Lead author Gill Seyfang explains “Civil society-led – or grassroots – innovations have not received the attention they deserve, and are often overlooked. Our paper makes important progress towards a better appreciation of the scope of this sector to address climate change.”

Articles put forward for the prize were judged by a panel including John Urry, Catherine Butler, Milena Buchs and Maya Gislason. A celebratory prize giving event will be held early in the new year.