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Narratives of transition/non-transition towards low carbon futures within English rural communities

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journal contribution
posted on 2014-03-20, 16:38 authored by Martin Phillips, Jennifer Dickie
Drawing on Anderson’s (2010) identification of calculative, imaginative and performative modes of anticipatory action where futures are made present in the present day, this article explores how rural studies have explored futures before focusing its attention on the degree to which residents in four villages in England make evaluations of rural futures linked to issues of low carbon lifestyles and climate change. Particular attention is paid to the role of imaginative constructions of rurality in influencing anticipatory actions associated with carbon dependency and climate change. The study reveals the presence of disjunctures between expressed concerns over energy consumption and climate change, and associated mitigative and adaptive actions. It is noted that such disjunctures have been widely observed in previous studies and interpreted through some variant of a ‘deficit model of public understanding’. It is argued, however, that such models ignore the presence of cultural and material constraints on action, the presence of pre-existing imaginative and performative interpretations of futures, and the degree to which people are aware of such disjunctures and construct narratives for the self that seek to resolve, deny or displace dissonances between beliefs and actions. The paper outlines five narratives that promote stasis as well as three narratives of transition, considering how they make a range of futures both present and absent.


This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number RES-240-25-0025], with the project being entitled ‘Adaptations to rural communities through living with climate change’.



Journal of Rural Studies, 2014, 34, pp. 79-95

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Geography/Human Geography


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