Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

Abstract

Sustainability is increasingly informing the organization of urban life. In the past 15 years, cities have sought to alleviate the dual effects of environmental degradation and a changing economy by introducing sustainable development initiatives. Policy makers and environmental activists have often praised these efforts, pointing to the enhancement of quality of life, the mitigation of industrial pollution, and these initiatives' capacity to address poverty in a post-welfare state. Most popular depictions of the experiences of sustainability come from the perspective of white, middle class, college-educated volunteers and, increasingly, social entrepreneurs such as artisans, farmers, and other producers connected to "local" foods movements. Yet what is missing is the experiences and perspectives of low-wage earners, job trainees, and black youth who participate in various urban sustainable development initiatives. This is important because sustainability initiatives have historically benefitted white middle class people often at the expense of poor people of color. In other words, sustainable development has reproduced and exacerbated existing inequality. This research provides answers to debates in urban and environmental sociology about how to achieve more equitable distributions of power in order to make the production of urban environments more inclusive.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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