Developing a theory of local environmental policy capacity: the case of sustainable homes in England

Lemprière, Maximilian William (2017). Developing a theory of local environmental policy capacity: the case of sustainable homes in England. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Processes of ecological modernisation – where ecological protection becomes increasingly viable and attractive, whether through market forces or by state intervention and regulation – have received considerable attention within the academic literature. However, extant theory in this respect has focused almost wholly on the nation state level and has yet to account for the role played by local governments.
This thesis seeks to address that deficiency by developing conceptual tools to study local government behaviour in order to understand why local governments contribute differently from one another to processes of ecological modernisation. A model of local environmental
policy capacity is proposed (using insights from new theories of institutionalism, policy entrepreneurship and policy networks) and is applied to the ‘zero-carbon homes’ policy agenda of England in the period 2006 to 2015. This agenda is chosen because it both illustrates ecological modernisation and centres on a key field of responsibility for local government – local planning.
Two local governments are chosen for in-depth study to assess the value of the model. Oxford City Council, on the one hand, which showed reluctance in contributing to the agenda, and Cambridge City Council, on the other, which has been more proactive. The research provides useful insights on reasons for the differences between the two cities, these reflecting, above all, the dialectical relationship between policy entrepreneurship and institutions. Empowered entrepreneurs operating within an institutional context conducive to both change, and with a focus on sustainability, are important conditions for action.
The key contribution of the thesis lies in its revelations about the processes of ecological modernisation at a local level, and the argument that, if ecological modernisation theory is to be useful in explaining the processes of change in this regard – as it claims to be – then it needs also to take account of local government’s contributions.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Vezirgiannidou, Sevasti-EleniUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government


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