The article describes the field of sustainability transitions research, which emerged in the past two decades in the context of a growing scientific and public interest in large-scale societal transformation toward sustainability. We describe how different scientific approaches and methodological positions explore diverse types of transitions and provide the basis for multiple theories and models for governance of sustainability transitions. We distinguish three perspectives in studying transitions: socio-technical, socio-institutional, and socio-ecological. Although the field as a whole is very heterogeneous, commonalities can be characterized in notions such as path dependencies, regimes, niches, experiments, and governance. These more generic concepts have been adopted within the analytical perspective of transitions, which has led three different types of approaches to dealing with agency in transitions: analytical, evaluative, and experimental. The field has by now produced a broad theoretical and empirical basis along with a variety of social transformation strategies and instruments, impacting disciplinary scientific fields as well as (policy) practice. In this article, we try to characterize the field by identifying its main perspectives, approaches and shared concepts, and its relevance to real-world sustainability problems and solutions.


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