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Title: Scotland's rubbish : domestic recycling, policy and practice in everyday life
Author: Stewart, Fraser Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0004 2729 1864
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the relationships people have with rubbish in everyday life. Focusing on domestic recycling policy and practice, environmental concern and action is explored as a sociological problem in a way that moves beyond the individualising paradigms that dominate environmental discourse for behavioural change. In its place, this thesis argues that better explanation may reside in the social context of embedded practices, and how they get enacted in daily life. Beginning with a historical overview and evaluation of current policy, this thesis re-imagines domestic recycling as a complex socio-technical system involving the engagement of different actors. Conducted at the boundaries of sociology, this thesis draws on empirical and theoretical ideas that extend across disciplines. Methodologically the research has been grounded on a principle of mixed methods pragmatism, exploiting the Sequential Explanatory mixed methods research design. Conducted across two phases, Phase One involved the secondary analysis of the Scottish Household Survey and Phase Two the collection and analysis of qualitative data using the Diary- Interview method. The first phase was a macro- analysis of recycling practices in Scotland. The main results of this analysis are presented in Chapter 4, which built a Binary Logistic Regression model, using the Scottish Household Survey, to predict the characteristics of Scottish households likely to engage in recycling behaviour. In addition to identifying the social and structural dimensions of recycling in Scotland, this analysis also enabled a research site to be selected for Phase Two of the study. Chapters 5 and 6 respond to the macro- analysis by accounting for the micro- aspects of recycling practices by looking at the problem inductively. Using qualitative data analysed in Phase Two, these two chapters are based on the idea that how people value the environment is relevant for understanding contemporary recycling practices. Chapter 5 considers the explanatory usefulness of environmental ethics, values and citizenship for explaining why some households engage in environmental behaviour, but others do not. In Chapter 6 these arguments are developed further with a more detailed discussion about how household recycling practices get enacted in everyday life. Using evidence from the data, this chapter considers why commitment to ‘doing’ recycling varies between people and examines recycling as formed, cultivated and maintained habitual behaviour. Taken together the three data chapters try to show that, rather than be an inconsequential feature of normal domestic life, recycling is a practice deeply-rooted in wider social patterns and structural forces. In the final chapter, all of the micro- and macro- findings are integrated together and concluded, along with some reflections on the multidimensionality of contemporary recycling practices in the home, and what this might mean for policy and future research.
Supervisor: Yearley, Steven. ; Rosie, Michael. Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: waste ; recycling ; everyday life ; mixed methods