This paper investigates the interplay between changes in infrastructural systems (or infrasystems) and societal context. The driving question of this paper is whether infrasystems which are inherently rigid and hard to change radically are likely to block desired transitions to sustainability, or that there are pathways in which infrasystem changes might be utilized as drivers for accelerating desired transitions. Based on synthesizing insights from research on infrastructures and on transitions, we present a typology for identifying different types of infrasystems (infrasystem architectures), what underlies infrasystem complexity (infrasystem interplays), and how infrasystems might respond to change in the form of alternative pathways. Our exploratory effort draws together different literatures in order to formulate a number of guiding conceptualizations and transition strategies for further debate and experiment. Our analysis suggests that an infrasystem transition depends on infrasystem architecture and on actors (regulators, planners versus users) given the multi-actor setting of infrasystems. We show that the transition management approach offers interesting insights when analyzing infrasystem change and that the topic of infrasystem transitions is highly relevant and needs to be further explored within the transitions field.

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Technological Forecasting and Social Change
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Frantzeskaki, N., & Loorbach, D. (2010). Towards governing infrasystem transitions. Reinforcing lock-in or facilitating change?. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 77(8), 1292–1301. doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2010.05.004