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Societal transformation to sustainability through the unmaking of capitalism? A comparative study of radical grassroots innovations in Europe

Objective

Modern capitalist societies engage destructively with the natural environment. Societal transformation to sustainability is urged, but it implies a degree of disruption of modern, capitalist ways of being and doing. Radical grassroots innovations – those that posit a profound cultural, economic, and political transformation of dominant institutions and practices - hold the potential to lead such transformation, but may be constrained by their marginal, local, small-scale character.
This programme aims to understand to what extent, under what conditions, and through what processes radical grassroots innovations unmake modern, capitalist institutions and practices. This research will compare Italian and German radical grassroots innovations in agriculture to: (1) identify and categorize mechanisms of unmaking that are involved in radical grassroots innovations; (2) explain whether and how unmaking creates space for alternatives from the individual to the social-ecological level; (3) understand how mechanisms of unmaking at different levels interplay; (4) explain why unmaking may result in different outcomes in different context; (5) develop a theory of unmaking in societal transformation to sustainability.This research is ground breaking as it (1) approaches societal transformation from the perspective of unmaking of dominant institutions, rather than of the introduction of innovations, (2) mobilizes theories that have so far not been considered, and innovatively integrates theories and levels of analysis, (3) originally employs mixed methods that capture trajectories of change, and enable to generalize causal mechanisms in complex social-ecological systems. This programme will push the boundaries of our understanding of transformation to sustainability. It will generate scientific knowledge that will be relevant across the social sciences, offer a theoretical lens –unmaking-, and test a process-tracing methodological approach to stimulate interdisciplinary research.

Field of science

  • /social sciences
  • /agricultural sciences/agriculture, forestry, and fisheries
  • /agricultural sciences/agriculture, forestry, and fisheries/agriculture
  • /social sciences/sociology/social problems/corruption
  • /social sciences/other social sciences/social sciences interdisciplinary/sustainable development

Call for proposal

ERC-2018-STG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-STG - Starting Grant

Host institution

UNIVERSITEIT UTRECHT
Address
Heidelberglaan 8
3584 CS Utrecht
Netherlands
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 498 200

Beneficiaries (1)

UNIVERSITEIT UTRECHT
Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 1 498 200
Address
Heidelberglaan 8
3584 CS Utrecht
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments