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Elite vs. mass politics of sustainability transitions

While the past decade of transitions scholarship has increasingly acknowledged the centrality of politics, key questions on transition politics deserve further research. Here, we develop a heuristic framework from the discipline of political science that separates transition politics into the classic categories of interests, ideas, institutions, as well as elite and mass politics. Based on this framework, we conduct a review of existing transitions literature on politics. We find that some areas of our framework are better covered than others. For instance, while the institutional foundations of elite politics are relatively well researched, there are only few studies on interests and ideas in mass politics. In geographical and sectoral terms, research is biased toward energy transitions in Europe and North America. Based on our review, we map areas for future research we believe to be indispensable to better understand varieties of transition politics.

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