Political economy of the transition


Why, despite 5 decades of compelling research on the socio-economic sources of both pollution (IPCC, 2018) and biodiversity loss (FAO, 2019), in most industries does regulation of environmentally damaging practice remain so weak?

This course aims at providing students with tools to fully understand and address this question, as well as to grasp the « success stories » that have nevertheless emerged within economic activity. To do so, it will set out and illustrate an approach to political economy which studies industries as structured by institutions (stabilized rules and norms) and asymmetric power relations between actors (public, private). By embracing the politics of industry in this way, theories and hypotheses from research on ecological transition can be fully integrated into analysis of economy-environment relationships. Having set out this approach in its introductory section, the course then draws upon empirical research and case studies in order to explain and discuss the varying fortunes of regulating a range of industries.

Recommended Prerequisite(s)

Students must have an interest in issues related to environmental transition, an interest in economic activity and its regulation, the ability to read political science and economic sociology texts in French and English, the ability to participate actively in class discussions, and to write (in French or English).


  • Jullien B. & Smith A., Conceptualizing the role of politics in the economy : Industries and their institutionalizations, Review of International Political Economy, 18(3) : 358-383, 2011.
  • Carter C., The transformation of Scottish fisheries : Sustainable interdependence from « net to plate », Marine Policy, 44, 131-138, 2014.
  • Poupeau F.M., Quand l’État territorialise la politique énergétique. L’expérience des schémas régionaux du climat, de l’aire et de l’énergie, Politiques et Management Public, 30/4 443-472, 2013.
  • York R., Rosa E., Key challenges to ecological modernization theory, Organization & Environment, 16(3) : 273-288, 2003.

Educational formula

Each session will be structured around: a lecture by the teachers and a structured class discussion about texts to be read prior to class.

In brief

Year Fourth year

Teaching languageFrench

Teaching term Six-monthly

ECTS credits 3.0

Number of hours 18.0

Teaching activityLecture course

ValidationContinuous assessment

Mandatory teaching



Educational manager :
Smith Andrew [+]