Governance of Systems of Social Practice for Sustainability: Developing a reflexive systems of practice approach for governance of sustainability

Graham, James (2018) Governance of Systems of Social Practice for Sustainability: Developing a reflexive systems of practice approach for governance of sustainability. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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It is widely recognised that meeting current emissions reduction targets will require radical changes to the sustainability performance of the built environment. Dominant approaches to sustainable building rest upon technological innovation, regulation and behavioural change initiatives. These represent a centralised command and control approach to governance. This thesis contributes to existing literature which contends that these approaches are inadequate because they fail to recognise the simultaneously socio-technical nature of systems, thus focusing on narrow interventions aimed at isolated aspects of dynamic systems. Instead, the thesis develops and applies a novel conceptual approach to explore the reflexive governance of systems of social practice.

The thesis draws on new empirical data from a multi-site in depth qualitative study of the system of practice that emerged around a sustainable building project at the University of East Anglia. This involved 58 interviews with key actors and residents, 12 months participant observation and documentary analysis conducted during the construction process and first months of occupancy.

Key novelty of the thesis is found in producing a map of a “live” system of practice. The mapping process enabled the identification of the multiple and diverse relations between practices through which governance occurs, and an exploration of numerous overlapping forms of governance happening at different points in the system. Sustainability is identified as a situated element of practice, taking different forms at different points in the system. The thesis concludes by drawing out implications for governing systems of practice for sustainability. It outlines an idealised system of governance based on principles of: i) systematic mapping of connections within systems of practice to understand both current context and likely outcomes; ii) anticipatory policy visioning; iii) co-design of interventions with key practitioners; and iv) developing distributed reflexivity across whole systems of practice to better attend to multiple forms of sustainability.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Jennifer Whitaker
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2019 13:27
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2019 13:27


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