‘Niches’ (loci of radical innovation, from the idea of niche markets, but a broader concept including policymaking and local social networks) may form around visions of alternative technologies and societies. However, if they are to change society as a whole, they will have to be allowed to exist, even though they challenge the current regime. This was a development of the concept of strategic niche management (Hoogma et al., 2002). The conditions under which a niche may successfully expand and challenge a regime are examined in Geels (2005) and the possible transition dynamics are analysed in Geels and Schot (2005). This may happen if society recognizes a need for fundamental change, such as the challenge of climate change, and is willing to create niches to generate alternative technologies and societies. Also, if there is a powerful external influence on society, such as catastrophic climate change impacts or the belief that they will happen, the regime may be forced into radical change and adopt the technology and social structure of a niche.
Page 234-5 Kohler, Whitmarsh, Michie and Oughton in Foxon, T, Kohler, J. and Oughton, C. (2008) Innovation For A Low Carbon Economy Economic, Institutional and Management Approaches Cheltenham: Edward Elgar