Intending community: space, place, home : unearthing sustainability at the margins

McColl, Jess (2015) Intending community: space, place, home : unearthing sustainability at the margins. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis contributes to current research and discourse that engages with sustainability as a pervasive challenge that must, by its very nature, be situated in contexts that are both global and local. Setting the scene, the work initially reviews some of the more significant and overarching transformations that have led to escalating threats to ecosystems, species and climate. Here, the limits of both national and international environmental governance are exposed, particularly as they navigate the paradoxical nature of development, which increasingly threatens the integrity of the lifeworlds on which it relies. In establishing a more grounded register of the ways in which this plays out, primary research in Australia and Scotland traces the underlying values, intentions and actions that inform the ways in which local life is sustained. Implied by the title is a broadly inclusive exposition of community, one that reasserts the value and relation of the locale to the broader lifeworlds that surround it. Framed by a co-constructivist methodology, a diverse range of scholarship incorporating physical and social sciences, philosophy and ecotheosophy challenges the limits of academic orthodoxy, producing a more coherent conceptualisation of both community and sustainability. In similar fashion, social-environmental histories more usually consigned to the past are revisited as continuities that infect the present with increasingly complex ecological challenges. In rounding the journey, an aesthetic engagement with the locale challenges an over-arching discourse that marginalises community life under the rubric of governance and development. Articulated through personal-political narratives and eco-theosophical fiction, the frailty and limits of human agency are set beside the contingent, fluid nature of spaces and places that constitute home. In the process, community life is recalibrated as an essential link in the broader chain of planetary life, one that presents as a potentially more durable locus of sustainability-in-practice.

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Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1604 Human Geography
Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Arts
Keywords local communities, community life, communography, ecology, human geography, Scotland, Australia, England
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