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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

How justice shapes transition governance - a discourse analysis of Swedish policy debates

Fischer, Anke; Joosse, Sofie; Strandell, Jacob; Soderberg, Nora; Johansson, Kornelia; Boonstra, Wiebren Johannes


In both policy-making and academia, the realisation is growing that transitions striving for sustainability have to be just to be socially accepted. This insight has given rise to institutionalised approaches to a "just transition" - but also beyond these, justice is a key challenge in the governance of sustainability transitions. In this paper, we examine how justice arguments are being used in national-level discourses of transition governance in Sweden. Analysing 121 policy-related documents from 2019 to 2021, we found that justice was discursively treated in a way that essentially stifled change. Political actors attempted to trump each other's justice claims rather than to genuinely engage with them. Justice concerns that would not serve re-election, such as solidarity across social boundaries, were almost absent from the material. Based on these findings, we critically explore how justice arguments contribute to politicizing transition governance in particular ways, rendering some policy options impossible.


just transition; contributive justice; procedural justice; recognition justice; depoliticisation

Published in

Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
2024, Volume: 67, number: 9, pages: 1998-2016