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The politics of climate change in the Caribbean: A sociological investigation into policy responses, public engagement and activism

Sealey-Huggins, Leon Ayo (2013) The politics of climate change in the Caribbean: A sociological investigation into policy responses, public engagement and activism. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Debate abounds over whether or not the lack of adequate political action on climate change can be explained by reference to a ‘post-democratic’ and ‘postpolitical’ consensus. While there has been scholarship that looks at neoliberalism and environmental concerns in the Caribbean, a region commonly represented as being particularly vulnerable to climate change, there is little that explores responses to climate change there sociologically, and in terms of debate around the post-political consensus. This thesis, therefore, constitutes an ethnographic investigation into the politics of responses to climate change, concentrating on representations of public engagement, activism and policy responses, in three case-study sites in different contexts, all relevant to the Caribbean region as a whole. These are: 1) the regional context, focusing on climate change policies and responses in the Caribbean; 2) the international context, exploring policy-making, public engagement and social movement activism at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 16th Conference of Parties in Cancún, Mexico; and 3) the national context, examining the relationships between community engagement around conservation, development and the governance of protected areas, and climate change in Belize. The contributions of the thesis are as follows. Firstly the research details the specific dynamics of tendencies towards neoliberal development, and hence depoliticisation, in responses to climate change in each of the case-study contexts. Nevertheless, the theory of the post-political is elaborated on where it is shown that these tendencies can be better understood with reference to the legacies of colonialism in the region, and the forms of development established and enforced in their wake. Hence, secondly, the research considers depoliticisation processes in the post-colonial contexts of the Caribbean, indicating that pressures towards neoliberal development shape responses to climate change there. Thirdly, the study adds texture to existing discussions by moving beyond overly monolithic theoretical accounts of post-politics, via a nuanced engagement with ethnographic data, to highlight the ambivalent dimensions of people’s accounts, and the pragmatic actions they take in response. An evaluation of the latter reveals challenges to tendencies towards depoliticisation, as well as some of the tensions involved in trying to implement depoliticized responses. Finally, I demonstrate that different responses toclimate change imply contrasting models of society, and human action. The data points towards there being an affinity between post-political and individualised, or ‘unsociological’ accounts of climate change.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-747-6
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Sociology and Social Policy (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2014 10:32
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2016 13:09
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6499

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