The International Journal of Environmental Studies pages:(submitted)
We analyse how the discourse of ecological modernisation affects a concrete practice in the field: a transition arena established by an urban government that aims at realising a climate neutral city in a participatory way. Inspired by a dramaturgical analytical framework we scrutinise the case focusing on the particular design of the setting in which participation takes place so as to grasp which actors, opinions, points of view, arguments, concerns, knowledge claims, values, expertise, etc. are taken into account and which are ignored or excluded. Our focus on what the setting does in constructing and transforming both those who are engaged in it and that what is considered to be at stake in it gives way to a dynamic, co-productionist understanding of the mutual relation between the issue and the public. We found that the scripting, staging, and performance of the transition arena created a very particular public around a very particularly framed issue of climate neutrality, both bounded by an ecological modernisation perspective. Instead of criticising the ecological modernisation bias of the studied transition arena, we conclude that the problem with this particular setting rather lies in the lack of reflexivity towards its own bias.