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Access to sustainable lifestyles: disability and environmental citizenship

Fenney Salkeld, Deborah R. (2015) Access to sustainable lifestyles: disability and environmental citizenship. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Reducing environmental impacts at the level of the individual or household is a key feature of sustainability debates, and there is interest in transitions toward more sustainable lifestyles. The implications of this for disability equality, however, have not yet been fully explored. This thesis examines disabled people’s experiences regarding sustainable lifestyles and uses these to bring a disability studies perspective to various sustainability literatures, such as environmental citizenship, which have so far neglected disability issues. Policy discourses around sustainability and disability equality are also explored and their implications examined. Methods included qualitative interviews and focus groups with disabled participants living in one local authority area, enabling participants’ experiences to be situated in the context of local sustainability- and disability-focused strategies. The findings indicate significantly more complex and diverse engagements with sustainable lifestyles than has been shown in previous research. Although many participants’ experiences could be conceptualised as issues of environmental (in)justice, they tended to favour perspectives based on responsibility rather than rights. Many participants could be identified as environmental citizens, demonstrating that disabled people can play an active role in environmental protection. Taking a social practice approach to the data also indicates a potentially valuable way to more fully conceptualise accessibility in relation to sustainable lifestyles. This research has important implications for transitions towards sustainable lifestyles. Current policy contexts are significantly constrained by the wider neoliberal economic context, so change may need to begin outside the policy arena – such as the environmental movement. The movement itself, however, also needs to incorporate disability equality as a concern. Disability equality can be conceptualised as a feature of sustainability, meaning sustainability will not be achieved without the inclusion of disabled people. Considering environmentalism as facilitated by external factors rather than internal values may be a potential way forward.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: disability, environmental citizenship, sustainability, accessibility, sustainable lifestyles
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Sociology and Social Policy (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.651236
Depositing User: Deborah Fenney Salkeld
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2015 10:51
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2016 14:42
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8835

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