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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Adapting climate change - how government authorities in Sweden make sense of adaptation through a network practice

Kanarp, G. C. S.; Westberg, Lotten


Calls for transformational adaptation are increasing. Government authorities, expected to lead adaptation, are in the difficult situation of changing a governance system from within. This demands a capacity for critical reflection among civil servants involved. Adopting a Social Practice Theory approach, we argue this capacity must be understood as emerging in practice, not simply held by individuals. Empirically, we focus on a central network of government authorities in Sweden's adaptation governance, and identify assumptions and routines guiding their meaning making process. We focus on how situations of contestation are dealt with to explore the practice's capacity to facilitate critical reflection. We show how a focus on efficient information transmission and an assumption of incremental adaptation as sufficient leads their practice to play down the consequences of the climate crisis. A practice approach suggests interventions to the group level in order to create joint critical reflection, necessary for enabling transformational adaptation.


climate change adaptation; logic of practice; performativity; transformational adaptation; critical reflection

Published in

Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
2024, Volume: 67, number: 9, pages: 1977-1997