Max Lempriere

The Local Politics of Ecological Modernisation: The case of sustainable residential construction in England.

Supervisor: Dr Sevasti-Elani Vezirgiannidou and Professor John Raine

Max Lempriere is undertaking doctoral research into the contribution that local governments make to the development of contemporary national-level environmental policy.  As we transition towards an ecological phase of modernisation it has been theorized that contributions to the nature and direction of policy stem from either the nation-state or from non-state actors. In his work he draws on recent findings from the literature on urban climate governance to argue that local government has, can and should play a more active role in offering these kinds of contributions.

On that basis he developers a novel theoretical framework by drawing on structural, institutional and network theories of political change.  Using the development of sustainable construction policy in England as a case study he applies this framework by enquiring a) into the nature of the contributions made by local government to national policy, b) the barriers and enablers that affected the propensity with which local authorities were willing and/or able to make a contribution and c) whether those contributions helped or hindered the transition towards ecological modernisation. His work uses both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

He has presented both his theoretical insights and his empirical findings at several internal conferences and colloquia at the University, as well as at the Political Studies Association Annual Conference in Manchester, the Midwest Political Science Association's Annual Conference in Chicago and the Global Sustainability Institute’s 2015 Research Conference in Cambridge.

Alongside this he is working with colleagues from the Institute of Local Government on the ongoing 'combined authority' devolution agenda, investigating their emergence and evolution in order to contribute to academic discussions on institutional design and change.



Max Lempriere studied for a BA (Hons) in Political Economy at the University of Birmingham between 2006-2009, where he developed a keen interest in international relations – with a particular focus on the politics of terrorist and non-state violence. Following that he undertook an MSc in Political Science at Stockholm University – not before spending a year running a central London pub – where he began to develop an interest in the politics of climate change. Working closely with the Stockholm Resilience Centre he began to read and contribute to the theory of ecological modernisation - a pro-modernist normative agenda that has come to dominate environmental policy making in the Western world.

His Masters Thesis questioned the extent to which ecological modernisation could be used to explain developments in local government recycling programs in the UK, where he began to also develop an interest in the politics of local government.


  • BA (Hons) Political Economy (First Class) – University of Birmingham
  • M.Sc. Political Science (Merit) – Stockholm University

Research interests

  • Local (environmental) politics
  • The theory of ecological modernisation
  • Sustainable construction and zero-carbon homes.
  • Institutional theory
  • Devolution

Other activities

Max Lempriere is involved in various administrative roles within the department, school and college. He has responsibility for the weekly POLSIS Doctoral Researcher Colloquium, and has been responsible for the organization of both the 6th and 7th School of Government and Society Postgraduate Colloquium in 2014 and 2015 respectively. He has also been involved in the organization of the School's contribution to the ESRC Festival of Science, held at the Library of Birmingham in 2014 and is the co-convener of a panel on local climate change politics at the 2015 Political Studies Association Annual Conference in Sheffield.

In addition he has been active for several years in departmental, school and college level student representative committees and was a panel member in the 2014 Vice-Chancellor's Review of the Education School.

Teaching responsibilities

Professional memberships

  • Political Studies Association
  • Midwest Political Studies Association

Conference papers

School of Government and Society 6th Annual Postgraduate Colloquium 2014, Birmingham, UK

Ecological Reform in Local Government: Toward A New Theory?

Political Studies Association Annual Conference 2014, Manchester, UK

The Local Politics of Sustainable Residential Construction: Towards A New Framework for the Study of Ecological Modernisation
POLSIS Postgraduate Colloquium
Findings from A Regression Analysis of Sustainable Construction Policy in English Local Authorities: Who is doing what, and why?

Global Sustainability Institute Conference 2015, Cambridge, UK

Good Intention, Poor Execution: Addressing the Evidence Gap in Our Theories of Ecological Modernisation

Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference 2015, Chicago, USA

Factors Influencing Local Ecological Modernization: The Case of the Sustainable Construction Policy in English Local Authorities

PSA Annual Conference 2015, Sheffield, UK

The Role of Local Government in Offering Innovative Contributions to Ecological Modernisation


‘Using Ecological Modernization Theory To Account for the Evolution of the Zero-Carbon Homes Agenda in England’ forthcoming.

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