The transitions literature describes three principal means for diffusing niche innovations into wider socio-technological regimes. These are: scaling up (niche activities grow in scale), replication (niche activities multiply), and translation (niche lessons are taken on by mainstream actors). The latter is the principal method for changing mainstream practices, as opposed to simply growing niche practices, and occurs most readily when the niche and regime resonate together in terms of values, organisational forms, contexts, metrics and so on. However, in the case of niche sustainable development activities, Smith's (2007) studies of green innovative niches illustrate the diffusion problems faced by alternative niches, due to their consciously oppositional framings. In other words, where grassroots innovations were established specifically to counter mainstream practices, as is the case with New Economics sustainable consumption niches, they are founded on quite different values, and aim to develop distinct sets of practices, to the mainstream. This dissonance with the regime makes it difficult to directly translate niche practices, but the distance can be reduced when the regime is searching for solutions to problems which place it under tension, or by either the niche becoming more like the mainstream, or vice versa. Using this translation process as a lens through which to view the experiences of the case studies in this book, offers a new perspective on the chasm between New Economics practices in the niche and mainstream values in the regime, and the potential for wider societal change. Reviewing the experiences of niche-regime interactions from Chapters 5, 6 and 7, reveals a set of cross-cutting issues which adds to the theoretical work presented in Chapter 4.
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