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Environmental Research as a Tool for Change : Theoretical and methodological implications from two case studies producing knowledge for environmentally sustainable housing

by Elfors, Susanna

Abstract (Summary)
The theme of this thesis is environmental research as a tool for change. In the first part of the thesis a “Situation of Opportunity” is studied, i.e. a situation when the opportunities to reduce negative environmental impacts are larger than usual. The maintenance of a multi- family residential area, here called a Small Neighbourhood, is studied as a series of Situations of Opportunity.To explore the prerequisites for using maintenance as a Situation of Opportunity, two case studies were carried out and reported as a licentiate thesis. The first one on the rental area Idö-Våldö in Stockholm managed by the association Stockholms Kooperativa Bostadsförening (SKB), and the second one on Järven, a housing cooperative in Malmö that cooperates with the management organisation HSB Malmö. In the study the researcher developed long-term environmental strategies based on the planned maintenance of the areas. Besides exploring the prerequisites for using planned maintenance as a Situation of Opportunity, the intention was that the studies would initiate an environmental practice within the areas studied.Results indicated that maintenance, at least in principle, creates many possibilities for reducing negative environmental impacts and that it to some extent also can be used for creating a dialogue between residents and managers. However, the conditions for using maintenance in the cases studied were limited by low interest among the residents as well as the economical and organisational prerequisites of the cases. The studies did not initiate an environmental practice as intended. The reason for that might be the mentioned conditions, but it could also depend on the researcher’s limited knowledge on action-oriented and collaborative research.Thus, the second part of the thesis aims at developing a research methodology for such research. Based on empirical experiences from the Idö-Våldö and Järven-studies and a literature study, a methodology for action-oriented research for environmentally sustainable housing (ARESH) is outlined. It is proposed that methods of action research and of case study methodology could be applied in ARESH. However, there are several potential conflicts in ARESH. The researcher has for instance to judge if the study should be led in the first hand by participants or by researchers, or if it should be more oriented towards theory than practice. One conclusion is that a research methodology for such research needs to be further discussed and also further explored in practice. Since there are indications that a collaborative and action-oriented research is evolving in the field of environmental research, it is hoped that the findings of the thesis can contribute to a discussion on how to carry out research as a tool for change
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Kungliga Tekniska högskolan

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; Aesthetic subjects; Settlement studies; Action Research; housing; environmental sustainability; Situation of Opportunity; Tragedy of the Commons

ISBN:91-7178-355-5

Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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