Governance of Social Practice for Sustainability (PhD Project)

Social practice theory is a relatively young field of scholarship in social science and has a lot to offer in terms of describing the actions of individuals and communities –  particularly with regards to mundane situations or everyday live. To date there has not been a lot of work done on the governance of practices and how practices influence each other and, corresponding to that there, has been relatively little work from a governance perspective explicitly referring to Social Practices. Social practice allows a different explanation not only of the actions of actors in systems but of the governance of those systems. If people carry practices then so do governors carrying the practices that influence them.

This PhD is intended to shed some light on those governance relationships through the mapping of a system of social practices and the interactions between practices within it. The system in question is a construction project on the campus of a UK university. It was chosen because it allowed detailed access to the practitioners involved as well as links to a wider network of practices but also because the project itself is an exemplar of governing structures and sustainable construction. The practices involved were traced through interviews with the actors involved in both construction and the management and lived experience of the finished building. On-site observation and documentary searches supplemented the data-set and revealed new practices and connections.

The research questions this project is aiming to answer are:

  1. What is the system of practice surrounding the Blackdale development at UEA?
  2. How are practices of governance performed in situated parts of a system of practice?
  3. How do governing practices and practices of governance interrelate with one another within a system of practice?
  4. What are the implications for reflexively governing systems of practice for sustainability?

Full text available here

People involved: James Graham (PhD Researcher)

Funding: UEA – School of Environmental Sciences

Supervisors: Tom Hargreaves and Jason Chilvers

Timeframe: 2014-2017