A collective action framework for transformations to sustainability

Authors: Jessica Blythe*, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University, Steve Alexander, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Derek Armitage, School of Environment, Resources, and Sustainability, University of Waterloo, Julia Baird, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University, Cheryl Chan, International Development Research Centre, Gillian Dale, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University, Emily Darling, Wildlife Conservation Society, Noella Gray, Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Georgina Gurney, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Marilyne Jollineau, Geography and Tourism Studies, Brock University, Gary Pickering, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University, Jeremy Pittman, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, University of Waterloo, Ryan Plummer, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University
Topics: Sustainability Science, Global Change, Social Theory
Keywords: transformations to sustainability, agency, sustainability
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Washington 6, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Humanity’s impact on the Earth is now so profound that radical transformations to sustainability are essential. Increasingly, researchers and practitioners recognize that transformational change cannot be achieved through single institutions or top-down initiatives alone. Rather, transformations to sustainability require the innovation, creativity and diversity of local community groups, social movements, and civil society organizations. Yet, there is little guidance on what motivates these groups to engage in deliberate transformational action, let alone how they might be supported. In this context, our research asks: what motivates individuals to engage in deliberate collective action for transformations to sustainability? While transformations literature tends to concentrate on planned interventions by powerful actors, we suggest that focusing on the agency of grassroots movements highlights potential entry points for supporting bottom-up collective action that challenges dominant paradigms.

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