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Careers of Action on Climate Change: The evolution of practices throughout the life-course

Hards, Sarah (2011) Careers of Action on Climate Change: The evolution of practices throughout the life-course. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Climate change has become a major concern for research and policy in recent decades, and individual behaviour change has constituted a significant strand within UK Government responses to the problem. However, our understanding of how and why individuals become engaged in sustainable practices, and how their participation develops over time, remains patchy. Conventional psychological models have failed to resolve issues such as the “value-action gap”; however, new sociological approaches offer a more holistic understanding of sustainable practices. This study draws mainly on these “social practice” approaches to answer four questions: 1) How is “action on climate change” understood by the people performing it? 2) How does performance of these practices develop throughout the individual life-course? 3) What are the key processes that influence this development? 4) What lessons can we learn for the promotion of sustainable practices? It adopts an in-depth, experience-based approach and employs a narrative-life-course methodology that combines loosely-structured biographical interviews with visual techniques. Findings suggest that action on climate change has multiple meanings for the people engaged in it, and encompasses diverse practices, often linked to broader life projects. While overall levels of action on climate change tend to increase throughout participants’ lives, some specific practices, such as car use, follow more variable patterns. Change happens for several reasons; first, every performance of a practice shapes future practices. Secondly, practices must be co-ordinated and shared with others, and these demands change over time. Thirdly, practices are shaped by context, including biographical time, historical time and space. These processes entail elements of path dependency, but individuals also appear to have a degree of agency within their careers of practice. The thesis concludes that these findings have significant implications for theory and policy on sustainable practices, and makes recommendations for the design of effective interventions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Social Policy and Social Work (York)
Depositing User: Miss Sarah Hards
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2011 12:50
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1951

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