Constructions of sustainability' and coalfield regeneration policies
Since the 1980s sustainability has, increasingly, become a policy goal, occurring in a variety of sectors and at a number of levels, from global to local. As a policy goal it is holistic, long term and all embracing; it lacks readily definable outcomes, such as job creation or miles of new road construction, that regeneration initiatives often require. It is characterised by ideals of ‘equity' and 'democracy’, and is quite different to traditional policy goals within UK government. Sustainability represents a unique challenge to many policy makers and implementers, and is often subject to discursive battles. This thesis explores the social constructions of sustainability using the coalfield regeneration policies, practices and performances in East Durham as a focus. The emphasis is upon discursive practices and how they are embedded in social relations of power and ideology. The findings suggest that sustainability operates far from its Utopian ideal. Indeed, in some cases the concepts are 'missing-in action'. At times it was hard to find traces of sustainability where one would have anticipated the concept appearing. Conversely, there are instances where much is made of the concept in order to ground certain actions over others. Essentially the language(s) of sustainability and regeneration are privileged discourses. They are used within discursive settings to legitimate a host of (in)actions. They are performed through a variety of formal and informal structures. Social power tends to lie with those actors who can use the discursive spaces and concepts. This often results in a (dis)juncture of discourse whereby those not using the privileged discourses feel dis-empowered, and sometimes adopt resistant discourses to challenge these normalised' discourses.