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Governing the second deep transition towards a circular economy: How rules emerge, align and diffuse

The recently developed Deep Transitions framework has so far been mainly used to explore the first deep transition towards industrial modernity. This paper looks at a potential second deep transition towards a circular economy, which is hoped to lead to a more sustainable global economic system. Our focus is on exploring the role of the EU in developing and diffusing this emerging set of rules. We draw on ideas from the international relations literature to explain why and how the EU adopted the idea of a circular economy, helped formulate it into a set of rules and how it promoted its international diffusion. The paper concludes with lessons about the case and critical reflections about the Deep Transitions framework. In particular, we argue for taking a more actor-based approach when researching the unfolding second deep transition.

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