The contribution explores the participation to the sustainability of the first Italian transition town. We are not experiencing only an economic crisis, but also a social and environmental one. The current situation requires major interventions in the way our economic system is organised, as well as strong social and behavioural changes. A new approach is needed that combines infrastructures, nature and people towards a sustainable life. The “Transition Towns” (-TT- Hopkins, 2008) seems to go in this direction bringing hope and practical solutions to many of the global problems, such as peak oil and climate change. This contribution explores the social participation in Monteveglio TT (Bologna, Italy), focusing particularly on the processes involved in establishing a collective participation in social sustainable activities. This research is part of the ACCESI project (socio- Constructivist Analysis of the Italian Sustainable Energy Communities), which aims to contribute to the empirical analysis of factors and processes that foster or hinder the use of sustainable energies in Italy. A qualitative, ethnographically-oriented methodology was used in this study for collecting and analysing the data. The corpus of data consisted of semi-structured interviews with key informants (i.e. the Mayor, the councillor, photovoltaic purchasing groups managers, environment experts, transition movement exponents, executive managers of sustainable education, citizens, farmers), municipality's newspaper, web-sites, blogs, and ethnographic notes. Key informants were questioned about their representation of sustainable energy, realistic and hopeful scenarios for the future of energy issues in their own local contexts, and drivers and barriers towards implementation of such scenarios. The role of the respondents was then investigated, stimulating opinion-sharing on their responsibilities and sustainable daily activities. The purpose of these interviews was to understand how motivations can encourage people to act in a pro-environment perspective, but also to inquire the representations of sustainability and responsibilities of citizens and institutions. Content analysis and critical discourse analysis were conducted to shown the critical aspects highlighted in participants’ discourses, such as the perception of conflict or cooperation between actors and social groups. The focus was on environmental management processes at various levels, on positioning, on attitudes and on agency involved in environmental risks. According to the literature (McMillan & Chavis, 1986; McMillan, 1996; Mannarini & Fedi, 2008), these results show that several and interdependent factors determine the participation: the perception of situations in terms of needs and problems, the sense of belonging, self and community efficacy. Participatory action is made possible by selfempowerment in a problematic situation, but it also requires an high sense of efficacy, high need for belonging and high recognition by the community. Different typologies of sustainability participation in TT citizen will be discussed.

PARTICIPATION AND SUSTAINABILITY: THE CASE OF AN ITALIAN TRANSITION TOWN.

ARMENTI, ALESSANDRA;BIDDAU, FULVIO;COTTONE, PAOLO FRANCESCO
2014

Abstract

The contribution explores the participation to the sustainability of the first Italian transition town. We are not experiencing only an economic crisis, but also a social and environmental one. The current situation requires major interventions in the way our economic system is organised, as well as strong social and behavioural changes. A new approach is needed that combines infrastructures, nature and people towards a sustainable life. The “Transition Towns” (-TT- Hopkins, 2008) seems to go in this direction bringing hope and practical solutions to many of the global problems, such as peak oil and climate change. This contribution explores the social participation in Monteveglio TT (Bologna, Italy), focusing particularly on the processes involved in establishing a collective participation in social sustainable activities. This research is part of the ACCESI project (socio- Constructivist Analysis of the Italian Sustainable Energy Communities), which aims to contribute to the empirical analysis of factors and processes that foster or hinder the use of sustainable energies in Italy. A qualitative, ethnographically-oriented methodology was used in this study for collecting and analysing the data. The corpus of data consisted of semi-structured interviews with key informants (i.e. the Mayor, the councillor, photovoltaic purchasing groups managers, environment experts, transition movement exponents, executive managers of sustainable education, citizens, farmers), municipality's newspaper, web-sites, blogs, and ethnographic notes. Key informants were questioned about their representation of sustainable energy, realistic and hopeful scenarios for the future of energy issues in their own local contexts, and drivers and barriers towards implementation of such scenarios. The role of the respondents was then investigated, stimulating opinion-sharing on their responsibilities and sustainable daily activities. The purpose of these interviews was to understand how motivations can encourage people to act in a pro-environment perspective, but also to inquire the representations of sustainability and responsibilities of citizens and institutions. Content analysis and critical discourse analysis were conducted to shown the critical aspects highlighted in participants’ discourses, such as the perception of conflict or cooperation between actors and social groups. The focus was on environmental management processes at various levels, on positioning, on attitudes and on agency involved in environmental risks. According to the literature (McMillan & Chavis, 1986; McMillan, 1996; Mannarini & Fedi, 2008), these results show that several and interdependent factors determine the participation: the perception of situations in terms of needs and problems, the sense of belonging, self and community efficacy. Participatory action is made possible by selfempowerment in a problematic situation, but it also requires an high sense of efficacy, high need for belonging and high recognition by the community. Different typologies of sustainability participation in TT citizen will be discussed.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/2770479
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