Circularity on the periphery: exploring the circular economy in rural and peripheral geographies

LeDrew, Rebecca (2020) Circularity on the periphery: exploring the circular economy in rural and peripheral geographies. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The prevailing wisdom about the Circular Economy (CE) is that it is a largely technical and industrial endeavour, one that is centred in major urban cores. Recent scholarship has highlighted the need for more critical social sciences research on the topic to illuminate the human and social dimensions of CE. Heeding the call for more social sciences voices in the field of CE research, my thesis offers a qualitative perspective on small-scale stories of circular innovations in the Netherlands and Scotland. In particular, I focus on peripheral spaces in these countries; in the case of Scotland, this entailed an exploration of CE in and around the postindustrial city of Dundee and in the Netherlands, the research was more rural-focused. Drawing on thematic concepts like ethical consumerism, daily practice and institutional/political/social linkages, as well as scholarship focusing on peripherality and the scalar dimensions of sustainability transitions, this work offers an in-depth examination of the complex dynamics that underscore particular CE initiatives. More specifically, my research reveals that CE projects are diverse and site-specific in nature, therefore indicating that a blanket approach to CE is likely to be very ineffective. My findings emphasize the need to examine small-scale circular narratives to better understand what factors facilitate or inhibit their implementation. The smallness of these projects is to their advantage as smaller, peripheral actors are more likely to leverage creativity and innovative thinking, as they do not have to implement their projects across a wide geographical area. Their size also allows researchers to observe more clearly the various dynamics at play. The purpose of such studies is not meant to be didactic, but rather their intention should be to stimulate broader thinking about what the CE can mean across a multiplicity of contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15067
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Keywords: circular economy, social dimensions of sustainability, sustainability transitions, peripherality, social circularity
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: December 2020
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Sustainable development--Scotland--Dundee; Sustainable development--Netherlands; Economics--Moral and ethical aspects.

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