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'Never a dull day': Civil Society & Sustainable Development in the Eastern Caribbean

Peck, Sarah (2017) 'Never a dull day': Civil Society & Sustainable Development in the Eastern Caribbean. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on the everyday experiences of civil society actors working in the field of sustainable development in the Eastern Caribbean islands of Barbados and Grenada. Civil society occupies a difficult place in development discourse; once heralded as the answer to development challenges it has since been heavily critiqued as a static, Western import ill-suited to local realities and, consequently, as an ineffective and depoliticised development actor. Yet civil society organisations remain central to the global development industry with significant amounts of money flowing through them. Rather than seeking to evaluate civil society’s role in development, this thesis articulates an understanding of civil society that is based on the lives, experiences and perspectives of the people who make and shape civil society. Through interviews and participant observation with a variety of civil society actors in Barbados and Grenada, this research identifies three key elements that make up everyday civil society experience and the wider social processes that contribute to civil society organising. These are firstly, the importance of social relations for civil society and how these social relations challenge dominant knowledge claims about the transnationality of civil society. Secondly, this research highlights how money is crucial for civil society action, but contends that financial arrangements also present an opportunity to shift notions of responsibility within development processes. Thirdly, this research argues that being seen as legitimate is essential for civil society organising and legitimacy can only be understood through complex everyday relations. This thesis concludes that using these everyday experiences promotes a more relational approach to understanding civil society and contends that a relational ontology would allow civil society to be understood as a space of complex interactions, flux and potential, rather than one based on static framings, fixed hierarchies and Western constructs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Geography (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.737882
Depositing User: Ms Sarah Peck
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2018 10:35
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/19900

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