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Environmental Research as a Tool for Change: Theoretical and methodological implications from two case studies producing knowledge for environmentally sustainable housing
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Built Environment Analysis.
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

The theme of this thesis is environmental research as a tool for change. In the first part of the thesis a “Situation of Opportunity” is studied, i.e. a situation when the opportunities to reduce negative environmental impacts are larger than usual. The maintenance of a multi- family residential area, here called a Small Neighbourhood, is studied as a series of Situations of Opportunity.

To explore the prerequisites for using maintenance as a Situation of Opportunity, two case studies were carried out and reported as a licentiate thesis. The first one on the rental area Idö-Våldö in Stockholm managed by the association Stockholms Kooperativa Bostadsförening (SKB), and the second one on Järven, a housing cooperative in Malmö that cooperates with the management organisation HSB Malmö. In the study the researcher developed long-term environmental strategies based on the planned maintenance of the areas. Besides exploring the prerequisites for using planned maintenance as a Situation of Opportunity, the intention was that the studies would initiate an environmental practice within the areas studied.

Results indicated that maintenance, at least in principle, creates many possibilities for reducing negative environmental impacts and that it to some extent also can be used for creating a dialogue between residents and managers. However, the conditions for using maintenance in the cases studied were limited by low interest among the residents as well as the economical and organisational prerequisites of the cases. The studies did not initiate an environmental practice as intended. The reason for that might be the mentioned conditions, but it could also depend on the researcher’s limited knowledge on action-oriented and collaborative research.

Thus, the second part of the thesis aims at developing a research methodology for such research. Based on empirical experiences from the Idö-Våldö and Järven-studies and a literature study, a methodology for action-oriented research for environmentally sustainable housing (ARESH) is outlined. It is proposed that methods of action research and of case study methodology could be applied in ARESH. However, there are several potential conflicts in ARESH. The researcher has for instance to judge if the study should be led in the first hand by participants or by researchers, or if it should be more oriented towards theory than practice. One conclusion is that a research methodology for such research needs to be further discussed and also further explored in practice. Since there are indications that a collaborative and action-oriented research is evolving in the field of environmental research, it is hoped that the findings of the thesis can contribute to a discussion on how to carry out research as a tool for change

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2006. , 91 p.
Series
Trita-SOM , ISSN 1653-6126 ; 06-004
Keyword [en]
Action Research, housing, environmental sustainability, Situation of Opportunity, Tragedy of the Commons
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-3944ISBN: 91-7178-355-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-3944DiVA: diva2:10128
Public defence
2006-05-24, D2, Lindstedtsvägen 5, Stockholm, 00:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20110121Available from: 2006-05-10 Created: 2006-05-10 Last updated: 2011-01-21Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Research as a Tool for Change?: Towards a methodology for action-oriented environmental research, learning from case study methodology and action research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Research as a Tool for Change?: Towards a methodology for action-oriented environmental research, learning from case study methodology and action research
2006 (English)In: International Journal of Sustainable Development, ISSN 0960-1406, E-ISSN 1741-5268, Vol. 9, no 1, 1-15 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In many studies on environmental sustainability, research is combined with initiating action. This approach differs from the more traditional natural-sciences view of research. However, the potential problems of the action orientation are seldom reflected upon. The aim of this paper, is to discuss pitfalls as well as possibilities and to propose a methodology for action-oriented Environmental Research. Comparisons with methodologies for Action Research (AR) and case studies are made. Experiences from a previous study on environmental practice in two Swedish residential areas are also used. The results of the discussion indicate several problems, and some of these could be overcome.

Keyword
Action research (AR), Action-oriented environmental research, Environmental research (ER), Environmental sustainability, Housing, Participatory action research (PAR), Research methodology, Research strategy, Sustainability research, Tragedy of the commons
National Category
Civil Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-5681 (URN)10.1504/IJSD.2006.010935 (DOI)2-s2.0-33845291518 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20110121 Uppdaterad från submitted till published(20110121).Available from: 2006-05-10 Created: 2006-05-10 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
2. Action Research for Environmentally Sustainable Housing: Using research as a tool for change
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Action Research for Environmentally Sustainable Housing: Using research as a tool for change
2008 (English)In: Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies, ISSN 1602-2297, E-ISSN 1602-2297, Vol. 7, no 2, 1-12 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Critics claim that neither results from sustainable housing demonstration projects nortools for the environmental impact assessment of buildings are used in mainstream housing practice.Th is raises the question of how research-based knowledge for energy effi ciency and environmentalsustainability in the built environment could be transferred to practice in a better way. In this articlewe propose a model to address this problem by combining refl ective research and “green engineering”.Th e model was developed through applying action research theory on generalized fi ndings ofempirical studies by diff erent researchers. Th e model is called Action Research for EnvironmentallySustainable Housing (ARESH). In this kind of research it is permissible to be openly normativeand to strive for change, but not to neglect critical refl ection. To achieve this, the researcher has toco-operate closely with co-researchers such as residents and housing managers, and, furthermore, tobalance between taking the roles of researcher, team member and teacher/preacher. On the positiveside, the model permits dissemination of information targeted at researchers as well as practitioners,and also “leaves behind” practical knowledge with the co-researchers after the project properhas ended.

Keyword
Environmental research, sustainability, action research, housing research
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-5682 (URN)
Note
QC 20110121.Uppdaterad från submitted till published(20110121) Available from: 2006-05-10 Created: 2006-05-10 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved

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