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Managing trade-offs in 'ecotopia': becoming green at the Centre for Alternative Technology

Anderson, Jonathan Mark 2012. Managing trade-offs in 'ecotopia': becoming green at the Centre for Alternative Technology. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 37 (2) , pp. 212-225. 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2011.00456.x

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The individual has been cast as both the source of and solution to many contemporary environmental problems. Although some individuals may display concern for the environment, actions are undertaken within a societal context that is often ambivalent to environmental issues. To ‘become green’, therefore, individuals have to negotiate a range of trade-offs between their environmental aspirations and the realities of life in a developed, consumer-based society. This paper draws on extensive field work at one site at which individuals have explicitly sought to manage these trade-offs – the Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales, UK. It argues that two distinct strategies are adopted to manage the tensions involved in becoming green: a ‘strategy of segregation’– where professional practices are separated from personal actions to establish balance, if not consistency, in everyday life; and a ‘strategy of alignment’– where (unsuccessful) attempts are made to unify personal and professional practices in line with environmental ideals. This paper outlines how the inability of these strategies to fully reconcile the tensions involved in becoming green has led to a ‘politics of pragmatism’ within environmental practice. It argues that this politics offers a way forward for contemporary environmentalism, both within ‘ecotopian’ spaces such as the Centre for Alternative Technology, but also in more mainstream spaces where the majority live their lives.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords: environmentalism; sustainability; individual identity; Centre for Alternative Technology; practice; citizen-consumer
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0020-2754
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 09:05

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