Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Mobile transitions : exploring synergies for urban sustainability research

Affolderbach, Julia; Schulz, Christian


Julia Affolderbach

Christian Schulz


Urban sustainability approaches focusing on a wide range of topics such as infrastructure and mobility, green construction and neighbourhood planning, or urban nature and green amenities have attracted scholarly interest for over three decades. Recent debates on the role of cities in climate change mitigation have triggered new attempts to conceptually and methodologically grasp the cross-sectorial and cross-level interplay of enrolled actors. Within these debates, urban and economic geographers have increasingly adopted co-evolutionary approaches such as the social studies of technology (SST or ‘transition studies’). Their plea for more spatial sensitivity of the transition approach has led to promising proposals to adapt geographic perspectives to case studies on urban sustainability. This paper advocates engagement with recent work in urban studies, specifically policy mobility, to explore conceptual and methodological synergies. It emphasises four strengths of an integrated approach: (1) a broadened understanding of innovations that emphasises not only processes of knowledge generation but also of knowledge transfer through (2) processes of learning, adaptation and mutation, (3) a relational understanding of the origin and dissemination of innovations focused on the complex nature of cities and (4) the importance of individual actors as agents of change and analytical scale that highlights social processes of innovation. The notion of urban assemblages further allows the operationalisation of both the relational embeddedness of local policies as well as their cross-sectoral actor constellations.


Affolderbach, J., & Schulz, C. (2016). Mobile transitions : exploring synergies for urban sustainability research. Urban studies, 53(9), 1942-1957.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2015
Online Publication Date Apr 29, 2015
Publication Date Jul 1, 2016
Deposit Date Jun 1, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jun 1, 2015
Journal Urban studies
Print ISSN 0042-0980
Electronic ISSN 1360-063X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 53
Issue 9
Pages 1942-1957
Keywords Assemblage; Green innovations; Policy mobility; Transition studies; Urban sustainability
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a copy of an article published in Urban studies, 2015, which can be found at:


Article (461 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (

You might also like

Downloadable Citations