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Green Identity, Place Attachment and Community Sustainability Practice

Dr Alex Franklin and Dr Ria Dunkley, Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University
Tuesday 3rd June 2014 - 4:00pm
Glamorgan Building Council Chamber

Please join us for this Environment Research Group seminar featuring Dr Alex Franklin and Dr Ria Dunkley of the Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University.

In recent years, there has been a notable growth in consideration of identity as an important factor contributing to individual engagement with sustainable lifestyles, practices and institutions. The adoption of such identity, referred to as ‘green identity’, ‘environmental self-identity’ or ‘ecological identity’, is thought to be fuelled primarily by a desire to improve one’s social standing (Griskevicius, Tybur, and van den Bergh 2010), or by a need to return a sense of morality to one’s everyday life (Shepherd 2002). Here we draw on this literature to explore the relationship between green identity and environmental practice in the context of local level engagement with community-led environmental projects.

Contrary to the burgeoning enthusiasm shown by government and also some academics, surrounding the encouragement of green identity (e.g. Whitmarsh and O'Neil 2010), we suggest that at a community level, in the absence of careful management, green identity can have a negative impact on levels of engagement with environmental projects. In extending these discussions further, we show how the potential successfulness of appeals to green identity are dependent upon the way in which green identity becomes or has already become 'situated' within place. We assert that it is the situated nature of green identity that shapes whether individual environmental projects come to be accepted or rejected by local residents or whole community groups.

It is also the situated and progressive nature of identity which contributes to the variability in levels of engagement with environmental projects, both over time and across different community settings.