Intermediaries and the Meso-Level Restructuring of New Practices


Intermediaries and the meso-level restructuring of new practices.

This Fellowship is exploring whether it is possible for ‘intermediaries’ to operate between macro level pressures and micro level social contexts in order to purposively manage the emergence of new practices. This is both a theoretical and empirical question. Within the context of funded work on water infrastructure, energy demand management, the hydrogen economy and urban ecological security we have a substantial body of empirical work on the critical role of ‘strategic’ intermediaries attempting to develop systemic change in socio-technical systems across a wide range of different urban and local contexts. The activity is of conceptual value based upon a review of literature which contributes to the core concerns of the SPRG programme.

Research Team:

 Fellow: Mike Hodson

 Fellow: Simon Marvin


Latest event: Workshop 

In September Mike Hodson and Simon Marvin presented the work undertaken during their SPRG Fellowship at the Urban Waste Transitions: connecting innovation, infrastructure and households workshop at the University of Manchester. The workshop was sponsored by the Sustainable Consumption Institute, cities@manchester and the SPRG. This day long workshop was attended by more than 35 participants who came from a variety of backgrounds including academia, local government, communities and public policy.  The purpose of the workshop was to explore the literatures on infrastructure innovations, socio-technical transitions and the dynamics of everyday practices. Although focused on municipal waste, the workshop was designed to bring together colleagues from different disciplines to review progress in the field and discuss how to further conceptual developments.


The Fellowship presentation was designed to examine insights and experiences from urban low carbon transitions. The paper that was presented argues that intensive carbon-based activities are historically deeply embedded in human lives and that a transition to a low carbon future is a multi-faceted, complex operation. The growing demand for low carbon cities and possible low carbon urban responses in general were explored before two case studies were presented. Greater London was portrayed as a low carbon exemplar due to the integrated efforts of multiple actors across the region. This was contrasted with the situation in Greater Manchester wherein the intermediary functionality is low and isolated one-off projects predominate.


For copies of the presentation see The paper can be requested from Mike Hodson and Simon Marvin. The paper will be published in a forthcoming issue of Urban Studies. Further work is being developed between the Fellowship and the workshop organisers on comparative transitions dynamics in the Greater Manchester context.

Site by iQ media