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Title: Governing pro-environmental behaviour change : a governmentality approach
Author: Dilley, Luke Tobias Martin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2731 5918
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2012
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Academics and policy makers alike have shown an increasing interest in the concept of ‘pro-environmental behaviour’. Central to this concept is the understanding that tackling environmental problems will necessitate behaviour change by individuals. Much research to date has sought to understand how attempts to encourage people to change their behaviour can be made to work more effectively. This research takes a different approach. Drawing upon Foucault’s work on ‘governmentality’, this research examines pro-environmental behaviour change as a practice of government. The research draws on an ethnographic study of the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Sustainable Behaviours Unit (SBU). It examines proenvironmental behaviour change as a particular problem, object and end of government. It is argued that the SBU hopes to govern the way we ‘choose to behave’ by acting on the psychic ‘stuff’ thought to drive and inhibit various forms of behaviour. The thesis examines the ways in which behaviour is sought to be governed ‘at a distance’ by working through ‘community’ and the ‘Third Sector’. The thesis also analyses how behaviour change is mobilised at the local level by exploring a particular green communities initiative – Wenfield Energy Saving Together (WERG). It is argued that the discourse and practice of behaviour change is modified and limited as it is inserted into a particular context and set of social relations. The themes of modification and limitation are explored in more depth in the final section of the thesis. It is argued that attempts to govern are met with resistance, contestation and strategic counter moves. It is suggested that rather than being a block to the exercise of government, such ‘counter conduct’ triggers processes of governmental reform. Finally, despite some evident difficulties in fostering pro-environmental behaviour; it is contended that, as a form of government, behaviour change may become less of a policy experiment and instead a more stable strategy of the state.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available