How to transform?

While I’m writing this, Elokapina, Extinction Rebellion in Finland, runs an autumn rebellion in front of the Finnish Parliament House. Unsurprisingly, public debate has started again about the usefulness of their strategy: whether blocking one of the main streets in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is effective or not. Will it repel potential supporters or give the needed attention to the demands of the citizen movement? Like in previous demonstrations, the opponents comment participants’ looks, supposed social status, and autonomy of opinions. According to commentators, such focus on the messengers (here demonstrators) is a classic move to steer away the attention from the actual demands.

Ink drawing by Eeva Houtbeckers (2021)

During my career in academia, climate crisis has become a mainstream topic in discussions about sustainability. Ten years ago it would have seemed radical to suggest that some industries need to be restricted or sustainable business practices need to go beyond corporate responsibility. Nowadays these are listed among strategies also in business journals (see for example Hahn & Tampe 2021). Thus, in academia, global warming changes theorising as an issue among others.

However, what is debated is the pace and rate of needed actions. While some focus on modifying the business-as-usual and consider that as a first step, others suggest fundamental changes in how to organise societies in the era of ecological crisis. Many of degrowth scholars contribute to the latter. Both of these strategies are discussed in studies focusing on transformations, which I have explored to some extent (see e.g. our recent article Gaziulusoy et al. 2021), and hope to study more. How are work and livelihoods portrayed in models and theories about transformations?

While there is much that can be done differently about how climate crisis is covered in public discussions, it is no longer downplayed, thanks to citizen movements such as Extinction Rebellion. As we know, in addition to climate crisis there are other acute socio-ecological crisis that should be covered more, such as biodiversity loss. I thank all the people in Extinction Rebellion globally who make an effort and disrupt their own life in order to get attention to ecological crisis. After the attention, we need discussions how to proceed. This is how transformations start.


Gaziulusoy, I., Veselova, E., Hodson, E., Berglund, E., Öztekin, E. E., Houtbeckers, E., … & Litowtschenko, M. F. (2021). Design for Sustainability Transformations: A Deep Leverage Points Research Agenda for the (Post-) Pandemic Context. Strategic Design Research Journal, 14(1), 19-31.

Hahn, T., & Tampe, M. (2021). Strategies for regenerative business. Strategic Organization, 19(3), 456-477.

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