Unpacking sustainabilities in diverse transition contexts: solar photovoltaic and urban mobility experiments in India and Thailand

Rob Raven, Bipashyee Ghosh, Anna Wieczorek, Andy Stirling, Duke Ghosh, Suyash Jolly, Eakanut Karjangtimapron, Sidtinat Prabudhanitisarn, Joyashree Roy, Somporn Sangawongse, Frans Sengers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


It is generally accepted that the concept of sustainability is not straightforward, but is subject to ongoing ambiguities, uncertainties and contestations. Yet literature on sustainability transitions has so far only engaged in limited ways with the resulting tough questions around what sustainability means, to whom and in which contexts. This paper makes a contribution to this debate by unpacking sustainability in India and Thailand in the context of solar photovoltaic and urban mobility experimentation. Building on a database of sustainability experiments and multicriteria mapping techniques applied in two workshops, the paper concludes that sustainability transition scholarship and associated governance strategies must engage with such questions in at least three important ways. First, there is a need for extreme caution in assuming any objective status for the sustainability of innovations, and for greater reflection on the normative implications of case study choices. Second, sustainability transition scholarship and governance must engage more with the unpacking of uncertainties and diverse possible socio-technical configurations even within (apparently) singular technological fields. Third, sustainability transition scholarship must be more explicit and reflective about the specific geographical contexts within which the sustainability of experimentation is addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-596
Number of pages18
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Appraisal
  • Asia
  • Experiment
  • Multicriteria mapping
  • Sustainability
  • Transitions

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