Experimenting in the city: unpacking notions of experimentation for sustainability

Frans Sengers, Frans Berkhout, Anna Wieczorek, Rob Raven

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This chapter explores the notion of experimentation in the context of urban sustainability transitions. It focuses on the sustainability transitions field apart from the wider literature on social change and policy theory. Experimentation has also been seen as a response to stagnation in conventional policy approaches and as part of the broader trend of the fragmentation of vested authority that creates spaces for new sources of authority, legitimacy and action by new social actors. In a systematic literature review, it distinguishes different types of experiments and some trends that emerge from this research. The researcher designs the set-up of the experiment and aims to control all relevant aspects of the process as far as possible separated from the complexity of real-world conditions. The distinction with transition-oriented experiments is primarily related to the greater diversity of social actors involved and the broader ambition in learning from the experiment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Experimental City
EditorsJames Evans, Andrew Karvonen, Rob Raven
Place of PublicationOxon UK
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781315719825
ISBN (Print)9781138856202
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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