Shaping Urban Infrastructures: Intermediaries and the Governance of Socio-Technical Networks

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Cities can only exist because of the highly developed systems which underlie them, ensuring that energy, clean water, etc. are moved efficiently from producer to user, and that waste is removed. The urgent need to make the way that these services are provided more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable means that these systems are in a state of transition; from centralized to decentralized energy; from passive to smart infrastructure; from toll-free to road pricing. Such transitions are widely studied in the context of the influence of service providers, users, and regulators.

Until now, however, relatively little attention has been given to the growing role of intermediaries in these systems. These consist of institutions and organizations acting in-between production and consumption, for example; NGOs who develop green energy labelling schemes in collaboration with producers and regulators to guide the user; consultants who advise businesses on how to save resources; and travel agents who match users with providers. Such intermediaries are in a position to shape the direction that technological transitions take, and ultimately the sustainability of urban networks.

This book presents the first authoritative collection of research and analysis of the intermediaries that underpin the transitions that are taking place within urban infrastructures, showing how intermediaries emerge, the role that they play in key sectors - including energy, water, waste and building - and what impact they have on the governance of urban socio-technical networks.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Indispensable reading for students, policymakers and providers of urban infrastructures.'
Roger Keil, Professor and Director, City Institute, York University, Toronto

'An authoritative and, above all, innovative and insightful account of the role of institutions, what they do and how they are governed to make sure that the infrastructures that make cities thrive keep on delivering what we expect them to do.'
Erik Swyngedouw, University of Manchester

'In bringing together these rich and stimulating studies of the roles of intermediaries in utility sectors, leading scholars Guy, Marvin, Medd and Moss provide yet another ground-breaking contribution to the study of the governance of change in urban infrastructure networks.'
Olivier Coutard, Director, French National Centre for Scientific Research/CNRS and Director of LATTS (Research Centre on Technologies, Territories and Societies), France

'A much welcomed contribution to sustainability transitions research. It successfully tackles two very central challenges: seriously addressing 'agency' and 'place' without loosing sight of systemic interdependencies. The book breaks new ground for future research in both respects.'
Bernhard Truffer, Director of Cirus, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology

'This important book casts light on the more and less visible intermediary agents that govern the socio-technical processes of urban life today. It will be indispensable reading for students, policymakers and providers of urban infrastructures alike.'
Roger Keil, Professor and Director, City Institute, York University, Toronto

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781849710688
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 2/28/2011
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Guy is Professor and Director of Manchester Architecture Research Centre (MARC) at The University of Manchester, UK.

Simon Marvin is Professor and Co-Director at the Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures, University of Salford, UK.

Will Medd is a Lecturer in Human Geography, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK.

Timothy Moss is Deputy Director at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning, Erkner, Germany.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables

About the Contributors


1. Intermediaries and the Reconfiguration of Urban Infrastructures - An Introduction

Part I: Conceptual Framework: Governance, Transitions and Cities


2. Intermediaries and the Governance of Urban Infrastructures in Transition

3. Systemic Intermediaries and Transition Processes

4. Cities Mediating Technological Transitions

Part II: Intermediaries in Network Transitions


5. Constructing Markets for Green Electricity: the 'Soft Power' of Intermediaries in Transforming Energy Systems

6. An Intermediary and Policy Implementation: Translating the EU Urban Wastewater Directive

7. The Intermediation of Water Expertise in a Post-privatization Context

8. Mobility, Markets and 'Hidden' Intermediation: Aviation and Frequent Flying

Part III: Intermediaries and Scalar Transitions


9. Strategic Intermediation: Between Regional Strategy and Local Practice

10. Re-interpreting Regulations: Architects as Intermediaries for Zero Carbon Buildings

11. Smart Meters as Obligatory Intermediaries: Re-constructing Environmental Action

12. Bridging the Recovery Gap

13. Conclusions: The Transformative Power of Intermediaries

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