Sustainability, the voluntary sector and local governance in East Yorkshire

Kythreotis, Andrew Paul

June 2009

Thesis or dissertation

© 2009 Andrew Paul Kythreotis. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This dissertation examines the role played by Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) groups in contributing to the governance of sustainable development. The research involves an intensive case study of VCS groups in Hull and East Riding, East Yorkshire, focusing upon Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs), Local Biodiversity Partnerships (LBPs) and Service Delivery Mechanisms (SDMs) such as Compacts. Drawing on approaches to governmentality and scalar politics, it investigates the VCS-state governance relationship, tensions around local sustainability governance, and the scalar political processes by which VCS groups promote sustainable development. Research methods are based on secondary data sources and semi-structured interviews.The study seeks an integration of approaches to 'governmentality', communicative action, partnership, power, networks and scales. It finds that state-regulated spaces of governance in the form of LSPs offer VCS groups limited recourse in which to promote their own particular discourses surrounding sustainable development. This is because VCS membership of such spaces is led by local government, who favour public service delivery and socio-economic discourses over environmental ones. As such, certain VCS groups only have regulated freedom and limited support in such spaces. VCS groups find it difficult to align their developmental aims with the objectives of local stateregulated governance spaces. This is exemplified through a tension between autonomy and capacity building within the VCS, with the state continually encroaching upon the legitimacy of an autonomous VCS, free from state interference. On one hand, some VCS groups seek to deliver particular sustainability objectives and win favour with local government by adapting to the public service delivery modus operandi of a 'congested state'. Through strategically aligning themselves with state-influenced networks of sustainability governance, these groups forfeit some of their independence surrounding sustainability objectives.On the other hand, other VCS groups form external, non-state controlled governance networks. In this process, they engage with higher scales of state territoriality and governance, particularly the region, to pursue their own independent sustainability objectives at the local level. Conversely, the regional state scale serves as a buffer, whereby central government can regulate 'at distance' how VCS groups promote sustainability. These findings contribute new insights into the ways in which local spaces of sustainability governance are produced and contested within wider state modernisation and rescaling processes.

Department of Geography, The University of Hull
Eden, Sally; Jonas, Andrew E. G., 1961-; Gibbs, D. C. (David C.), 1955-
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