From global discourse to local action? Town councils and sustainable development

Kambites, Carol J (2004) From global discourse to local action? Town councils and sustainable development. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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Sustainable development is generally accepted as a policy imperative. However, it can be interpreted in very different ways and is perhaps best regarded as a discourse rather than as a precisely defined term. It is also generally accepted that `sustainable development' requires actions at all spatial scales and by all levels of government, including the local. However, parish and town councils, which are the most local level of local government in rural England, are given no responsibilities in relation to sustainability. This thesis is intended to investigate the potential of parish and town councils to take a leadership role in increasing the sustainability of their communities. A casestudy approach is used, involving the study of five larger local councils in the county of Gloucestershire, in the context of larger-scale sustainable development discourses. Two case-study projects are also analysed to study how different discourses come together at the local level. We find that the concept of `sustainable development' has been adapted by UK government to conform to wider political discourses. However, government interpretations are not necessarily reproduced at the local level, where inherent contradictions become more apparent. Although parish and town councillors may express commitment to `sustainable development', they tend to interpret it in terms of the local and the relatively short- term. A discourse of local council legitimation is identified by which councillors see their role as caring for their parish, with the benefit of local knowledge and holistic thinking. The thesis concludes that if parish and town councils are to contribute to sustainable development, they must be given specific powers encompassing the global and long-term effects of local activities, and other local groups must see the local council as a leader of the community and `sustainability arbiter', rather than as just another interest group.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sustainable development, Town councils
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > HD60 Social responsibility in business
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Phil Davis
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2016 17:48
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 21:34

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