DOI: 10.12924/cis2016.04020001 |Publication Date: 21 June 2016

Identifying the “Usual Suspects”—Assessing Patterns of Representation in Local Environmental Initiatives

Paul Fenton 1, * and Henner Busch 2, 3
1 Division of Environmental Technology & Management, Linko ̈ping University, Sweden
2 Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies, Sweden
3 Lund University Centre of Excellence for Integration of Social and Natural Dimension of Sustainability, Sweden
* Corresponding author
Abstract: An increasing body of literature explores the role of transnational municipal networks (TMNs) in governing sustainable development. As associations, one key task of TMNs is to represent their members through production and dissemination of information and knowledge concerning municipal action for sustainable development. Case studies, often emphasising best practice, are used by many TMNs to fulfil this task. Nevertheless, despite strong scrutiny concerning the use of case studies in “policy mobilities” research, there have been limited attempts to quantify the ways in which TMNs present and disseminate case studies and, by doing so, generate trends of presence and absence in literature on sustainable development. Assessing patterns of representation for continents, countries, municipalities and themes across nine international case study collections published by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability since 1991, this study responds to this research gap and identifies the presence of “usual suspects” in the ICLEI case study collections, along with notable absentees. By doing so, the study contributes to policy mobilities research and literature on TMNs, by encouraging reflection and further research concerning the representation patterns influencing which municipalities and what topics are presented in discourses on sustainable development.

Keywords: ICLEI; case studies; comparative urbanism; municipalities; TMNs; urban sustainability

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2012 - 2017 by the authors; licensee Librello, Switzerland. This open access article was published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).