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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: Sustainable Development Thinking: disrupting business as usual
Author(s): Erasmus, Ishani
Supervisor(s): Watson, Cate
Drew, Valerie
Keywords: sustainable development
Scottish Parliament
Scottish Government
action research
cultural-historical activity theory
participant observation
sustainable development thinking
parliamentary service
sustainable development impact assessment
discursive tool
decision making
social equity
wellbeing economy
ecological integrity
Gross Domestic Product
economic growth
parliamentary committees
activity system
shared object
Issue Date: Sep-2021
Publisher: University of Stirling
The Scottish Parliament
Abstract: The concept of sustainable development (SD) was a response to the detrimental impacts of economic growth on the ecosphere and on human society. There is now a wealth of evidence which shows that these impacts could lead to social-ecological collapse if the trajectory of societal development is not soon shifted. Bodies tasked with governing societies, including parliaments, could play an important role in such a transition. The Scottish Parliament’s role includes scrutiny of the Scottish Government and of proposed legislation. Shortly after it was first opened in 1999, it committed to integrating SD into scrutiny, but since then, progress has been limited, due to the lack of expert staff resource. My action research project was set up to build on initial work carried out to mainstream SD into scrutiny processes. This thesis is an account of my research, including historical research and practical interventions designed to integrate an SD perspective into various scrutiny processes. Three major themes are explored here. The first is the processes of change-making that can help to mainstream SD; the second, the concept of sustainable development thinking, which emerged through that change-making; and the third, the ways in which SD thinking can help to mitigate some of the weaknesses of parliamentary scrutiny. Interventions in these areas are analyzed through the lens of cultural-historical activity theory, to elucidate the processes of learning and change that occurred. A potentially confounding issue is also considered - the pervasive and much-deliberated problem of the definition and conceptualization of SD, which can frustrate efforts to realize it, and which is manifested in parliamentary discourse, and the resulting legislation. Perhaps the most important finding of this work is that SD thinking could help to mitigate or even resolve this problem, including in other settings.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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