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How user innovation communities contribute to sustainability transitions An exploration of three online communities

Online user communities have given rise to a new form of peer network collaboration. This paper examines three user innovation communities to assess their contribution to sustainability transitions, particularly in terms of exploring sustainable technical solutions and their integration into society. We study three user innovation communities by analysing internet forum interactions and conducting member interviews. To assess the impact of these communities, we use the technological innovation systems framework as an analytical perspective.

Our analysis shows that user communities encompass a wide range of innovation activities and show great variation in their profiles: from strongly technology-oriented, rather anonymous networks to very broad-based communities that actively influence policy discourse, public acceptance and the social embeddedness of technologies. We conclude that innovation policy makers should recognise the transformative potential of this type of innovation and harness its potential to open up and explore alternative and more sustainable pathways.

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