The main objective of this dissertation is to generate more insight into the dynamics of sustainability transitions, more specifically it deals with the question of which kind of social structures are changing during a transition and how these transformative changes come about. Using insights from resilience theory and social theories, this research indicates that in order to understand and explain transitions we should shift our attention towards the regime concept. The regime is often treated as a black box, not explicitly clarifying which elements constitute the regime nor addressing the internal dynamics. The regime conceptualization suggested in this dissertation is a first step into this direction. A new transition analysis approach is developed which enables researchers to analyze which regime structures are changing during a transition and how these changes come about (i.e. the underlying transformation patterns). The research presents an in-depth analysis of the dynamics of the transition of Dutch water management, starting around the 1970s and is still unfolding towards a new regime adapting to and anticipating climate change. Our analysis suggests that niches and the regimes may be more cooperative than suggested in the literature and that even the regime is actively involved in creating niches. The regime creates niches through the formation of new structures. The niche initiates transformation leading to new regime structures, which in turn trigger niches. Scientifically, this dissertation triggers intriguing questions as to when societal change may be classified as transition. Practically, it provides leverages for systems analysis and transition management.

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J.E. Juriaanse Stichting, Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam
J. Rotmans (Jan) , J.C.M. van Eijndhoven (Josée)
Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT)

van der Brugge, R. (2009, July 3). Transition dynamics in social-ecological systems: The case of Dutch water management. Retrieved from