Community-led initiatives’ everyday politics for sustainability – Conflicting rationalities and aspirations for change?
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Community-based initiatives are widely seen to play an essential role in a societal move towards a low carbon, sustainable future. As part of this, there is often an assumption that such initiatives share expectations (i.e. a guiding vision) of large-scale change and that their activities contribute to this change. Here, we ask to what extent this assumption reflects members’ own perspectives on and interpretations of the aims and ambitions of their community initiative, and what this implies for a larger vision of sustainability transitions. In doing so, we respond to calls for a better understanding of the ‘everyday politics’ of what could be seen as processes of societal transitions in practice. We conducted qualitative interviews with members of five community initiatives in Italy, Finland and the UK. In each of these initiatives, we found a range of aspirations (i.e. outcome-related aims) and rationalities (i.e. procedural guiding principles). While some of these aims and ways of working were compatible with each other, we identified three major tensions that could be found across our study initiatives. These tensions centred on (i) the degree of politicisation of the initiative, (ii) the extent to which financial aims should take priority and (iii) questions of organisational form. We interpret these tensions as conflicting expressions of larger, societal-level discourses, and argue that this diversity and resulting conflicts need to be acknowledged – both in transition research and at the practical level – to avoid co-optation and disenfranchisement.
Fischer , A , Holstead , K L , Hendrickson , C , Virkkula , O & Prampolini , A 2017 , ' Community-led initiatives’ everyday politics for sustainability – Conflicting rationalities and aspirations for change? ' Environment and Planning A , vol 49 , no. 9 , pp. 1986-2006 . DOI: 10.1177/0308518X17713994
Environment and Planning A
Copyright © 2017, the Author(s), published by SAGE. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1177/0308518X17713994
DescriptionThis project has received funding from the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration (Grant Agreement no. 603705) through TESS (Towards European Social Sustainability, http://www.tess-transition.eu/).
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