Natural building in South Africa : assessing the niche-regime relationship through a 'latent niche' mediation

O'Rourke, Eamonn Christopher (2015-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In this thesis I examine the natural building movement in South Africa in an attempt to determine the systemic influences that appear to confine it to a small market operating at the very edge of the mainstream building sector. I make use of the conceptual framework of the multi-level perspective to explore the interrelationships between natural building as a technological niche and the mainstream building sector as the dominant regime. I extend the concept of a technological niche by appending the term 'latent' to form the term 'latent technological niche', to describe a technology with sustainability credentials that fails to break into the mainstream market, despite achieving technological maturity and constant though minimal market share. The research objectives of this thesis are to: identify pathways for the natural building niche to move beyond its latent state; to determine how the translations of natural building practices to the building sector might occur; and how this might transform the building sector regime. I explore how action research involving knowledge sharing between multi-stakeholder, niche and regime actors might stimulate debate and subsequent action to overcome entry barriers; and serve as a catalyst to advance a latent technological niche beyond its confined market. I present an action research method, a 'latent technological mediation', of facilitated 1st and 2nd order social learning. This is used as a mechanism of tapping into the immediate knowledge of actors in the socio-technical regime. The purpose being to identify the external forces and internal processes of a latent technological niche. The status of a latent technological niche is assessed by comparing these processes in the context of external forces against seven processes, presented in this thesis. These seven processes are considered crucial for a technology to break into the mainstream market and are adapted from the internal processes of success, described in the literature on strategic niche management and the characteristics of a successful 'bounded socio-technical experiment' (BSTE) described in the conceptual work on BSTE's. The potential for natural building systems to enter the mainstream building sector, particularly in South Africa, is used as a case study to apply the latent technological mediation method. The findings of this research suggest that the mainstream building sector is undergoing a transition following the path of socio-techical transformation. The uncertainty introduced by the parallel system of informal settlement, which may drive transition along the more dramatic technological substitution or de-alignment and re-alignment transition pathways is briefly explored.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In hierdie tesis ondersoek ek die natuurlike gebou beweging in Suid-Afrika in 'n poging om die sistemiese invloede te bepaal, wat neig om dit te beperk tot 'n klein mark teen die rand van die hoofstroom gebou sektor. Ek maak gebruik van die konseptuele raamwerk van die multi-vlak perspektief om die onderlinge verband tussen natuurlike geboue, as 'n tegnologiese nis, en die hoofstroom gebou sektor, as die dominante regime, te verken. Ek brei die konsep van 'n tegnologiese nis uit, deur die aanbring van die word 'latente' om die term 'latente tegnologiese nis' te vorm. 'n Latente tegnologie nis het volhoubaarheid potensiaal maar slaag nie daarin om in die hoofstroom mark in te breek nie, ten spyte van die bereiking van tegnologiese volwassenheid en 'n konstante maar minimale mark aandeel. Die navorsing doelwitte van hierdie tesis is om: roetes te identifiseer waarlangs die natuurlike gebou nis buite sy latente toestand kan beweeg; om te bepaal hoe die 'vertalings' van natuurlike gebou praktyke aan die gebou sektor kan voorkom; en hoe dit die gebou sektor regime kan verander. Ek bestudeer hoe aksie navorsing waarby kennis tussen verskeie belanghebbendes, nis en regime betrokkenes gedeel is, kan debatteer en die daaropvolgende aksie stimuleer inskrywing hindernisse te oorkom; en dien as 'n katalisator om 'n latente tegnologiese nis te bevorder buite sy beperkte mark. Ek bied 'n aksie-navorsing metode, 'n 'latente tegnologiese bemiddeling' van gefasiliteerde 1st en 2de order sosiale leerervaring aan. Dit dien as 'n meganisme van deling in die onmiddellike kennis van die spelers in die sosio-tegniese regime. Die doel is om die eksterne kragte en interne prosesse van 'n latente tegnologiese nis te identifiseer. Die status van 'n latente tegnologiese nis is beoordeel deur hierdie prosesse te vergelyk in die konteks van eksterne kragte teen sewe prosesse, wat in hierdie tesis aangebied is. Hierdie sewe prosesse word beskou as noodsaaklik vir 'n tegnologie om in die hoofstroom mark in te breek en is aangepas uit die interne prosesse van sukses, soos beskryf in die literatuur oor strategiese nis bestuur en die eienskappe van 'n suksesvolle 'begrensde sosio-tegniese eksperiment' (BSTE) beskryf in die konseptuele literatuur oor BSTE. Die potensiaal vir natuurlike gebou stelsels om die hoofstroom gebou sektor te betree, veral in Suid-Afrika, word gebruik as 'n gevallestudie om die latente tegnologiese bemiddeling metode toe te pas. Die bevindinge van die navorsing dui daarop dat die hoofstroom gebou sektor 'n verandering ondergaan op die pad van n sosio-tegniese transformasie. Die onsekerheid veroorsaak deur die parallelle informele nedersetting, wat 'n meer dramatiese tegnologiese substitusie, of ontsporing en herbelyning kan veroorsaak, word kortliks ondersoek.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96704
This item appears in the following collections: