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Urban sustainability experiments in their socio-economic milieux: A quantitative approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Early online date11 Oct 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Oct 2018

King's Authors


This paper deals with the geographically uneven distribution of urban sustainability experiments. It focuses on largely neglected demographic, socio-economic, and socio-cultural characteristics to explain where and why experiments are likely to emerge — or not. In doing so, it presents the first quantitative study to examine a systematic relationship between the incidence of experiments and neighbourhood-level indicators. Theoretically informed by transitions studies and urban geography, the study draws on unique data from an urban agriculture initiative consisting of nearly two thousand individual projects across metropolitan London. Applying spatial statistical analyses, its results suggest that, on the one hand, gentrifying and, on the other hand, income-deprived neighbourhoods provide distinct urban milieux in which initiatives emerge disproportionately often. In contrast, already gentrified or otherwise advantaged urban neighbourhoods are found to have a disproportionately low number of projects. The paper discusses the socio-spatially variegating roles of experiments and identifies implications of these findings for our theoretical understanding of the emergence of sustainability experiments, their interrelationship with differing socio-economic and cultural contexts, and their expected significance for wider societal sustainability transitions.

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