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Title: Examining the social context of land regeneration : a social constructionist approach
Author: Castan Broto, Vanesa
ISNI:       0000 0004 2677 7723
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis is concerned with the social context of land regeneration projects. Land regeneration projects aim at finding new uses for degraded or derelict land. The social and cultural dimensions of land regeneration projects are often overlooked. Thus, this thesis aims at examining the social dimensions of a land regeneration project. As a case study, this thesis examines the project RECOAL (Re-integration of coal ash disposal sites in the western Balkans). The aim of RECOAL was to develop sustainable and low-cost solutions for the regeneration of coal ash disposal sites in the western Balkans. The project ran from January 2005 to December 2007 and was largely funded by the 6th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development of the European Union. The research team included research organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Austria, Germany and the UK. This thesis adopts a social constructionist perspective to understand the problem of coal ash pollution `as the actors see it'. Hence, the aim of this thesis is to explore how RECOAL stakeholders construct the environmental problems to be addressed by the project and how these perspectives influence, and in turn are influenced by the project development. This thesis also examines the tensions that occur between competing `definitions of the situation' and evaluates the implications of this analysis for land use regeneration projects. Qualitative methodologies were used to examine the perspectives of researchers, local residents affected by pollution and institutional representatives. This thesis argues that, in environmentally degraded areas, there may be multiple social constructions of the environmental problem and thus, tensions may emerge between competing definitions of the situation. These tensions are part of the social context in which land regeneration projects are developed and they influence their results. Moreover, the results of the research suggest that land regeneration projects adapt to accommodate these contesting definitions of the situation using different mechanisms that include `expectations management' and `knowledge management' procedures. `Knowledge management' procedures, for example, include formal and informal rules to deal with the uncertainty of the results in risk assessment. `Expectations management' procedures require the project members to liaise with stakeholders at different levels. While both expectations and knowledge management procedures are embedded in the scientific practice they are rarely stated explicitly. Finally, this research argues that examining the social context may help land regeneration projects to improve their expectations and knowledge management procedures. In particular, adopting a social constructionist perspective may help exploring the social context of land regeneration projects by revealing the multiplicity of perspectives that intervene in the definition of environmental problems. The research recommends including local actors' perspectives earlier on in the framing stage of land regeneration projects.
Supervisor: Burninghan, K. ; Elghali, L. ; Carter, C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available