Regimes and meta-regimes: Maps for 5 systems and 3 surges

Socio-technical systems and regimes are central notions to sustainability transitions studies. As such attempts to identify their components, relations between these components and their boundaries have received considerable attention in the field.

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This paper aims to address the shortcomings in existing system mapping attempts by mapping five socio-technical systems – energy, mobility, food, communication and healthcare – in terms of their globally dominant regimes, i.e. sets of interrelated and mutually supporting rules providing directionality to the evolution of the system across different geographical locations. It also maps three meta-regimes that have guided the development of various systems: mass production and consumption (from the early 20th century), digitalization (from the 1970s) and sustainability (possibly emerging).

Finally, it provides a tentative sketch of how regime rules have changed under successive meta-regimes (or, in the case of sustainability meta-regime, are expected to change in the near future). The purpose of the exercise is to provide a shared point of reference for transitions studies which the scholars may then further criticize, modify or amend. The aspiration is therefore to create a common resource, continuously developing through the
accumulating collective wisdom of the transitions community.

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