Community projects as liminal spaces for climate action and sustainability practices in Scotland
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The potential of communities for sustainability learning and governance has generated substantial interest in sustainability discourses, but their specific roles and remits are not always critically examined. This thesis' original contribution to these discourses lies in the analysis of community projects as liminal spaces for pro-sustainable change that are limited in scope within wider political landscapes that do not sufficiently address wider challenges of an unravelling biosphere. The particular manifestation of community projects which emerges in Scotland as a result of Climate Challenge Fund funding made available by the Scottish Government is one example of sustainability governance at a local level. The present study draws upon data from field notes of eleven months of fieldwork, and semi-structured interviews with fifty-two informants, constructing two case studies with references to a third one. A transdisciplinary analysis of findings examines leadership and organisational structures and their implication for governance, and similarities and differences in practices and values identified within the case studies. Community projects are described as liminal spaces which facilitate the learning, practice-based and theoretical knowledge of sustainable practices (such as food growing or energy efficiency), and stimulate thinking on behalf of the group of participants or wider community. Community projects may also build temporary spaces demonstrating sustainable solutions visible to passers-by (such as raised vegetable beds in community gardens, or second-hand clothing in a swap shop). However, the longevity of these solutions is uncertain once the grant funding has come to an end. It is argued that in wider Scottish society, high-carbon lifestyles, inequalities and economic growth are the norm, and sustainable practices, community sustainability governance of tangible assets, and Education for Sustainable Development need to become less marginal and more widely embedded across all social and economic institutions.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy