Disruptive systemic change can be located in so-called regimes, the dominant order in a societal (sub)system. The notion of a socio-technical regime is aligned with the multiphase model of transitions which identifies four phases through which a transition occurs: predevelopment, take-off, acceleration, and stabilization. This transition perspective understands a dominant configuration or regime in the context of its interaction with changing external (landscape) factors, preferences, and pressures as well as in interaction with emerging novelties, innovations, and alternatives. As the broader societal context changes and new radical alternatives develop and emerge, regimes inevitably will enter a process of increased stress, internal crises, destabilization, and shock-wise systemic reconfiguration. Within sustainability transitions research, the concept of ‘roles’ enables the analysis of (changing) roles and relations between actor roles as indicative of changes in the social fabric and shared values, norms and beliefs. It also allows considering the use of roles as a transition governance intervention. This includes creating new roles, breaking down or altering existing ones and explicitly negotiating or purposefully assigning roles, as well as the flexible use of roles as resources.
The field of sustainability transitions research has emerged in the past two decades in the context of a growing scientific and public interest in large-scale societal transformation toward sustainability. There is a broad theoretical and empirical basis, with a variety of social transformation strategies and instruments, impacting disciplinary scientific fields as well as (policy) practice. One of the leading research institutes is Drift (Erasmus University, Rotterdam), well known for the publications of Jan Rotmans and Derk Loorbach. They have many publications and methods that can inform and inspire you. One of them characterises the field by identifying its main perspectives, approaches and shared concepts, and its relevance to real-world sustainability problems and solutions. The second recommended publication describes the insights of the roles of the actors (stakeholders) in complex transition projects.
Wittmayer, J.M., Avelino, F., Steenbergen, F van, Loorbach, D. (2017). Actor roles in transition: Insights form sociological perspectives. In: Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, (24), 45-56.
Chang, Loorbach, D., Frantzeskaki, N., and Avelino, F.. (2017). Sustainability Transitions Research: Transforming Science and Practice for Societal. In: Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 42(1), 599-626