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The concept of urban social sustainability: Co-ordinating everyday life and institutional structures in London.

Wu, Cheng-chong (1998) The concept of urban social sustainability: Co-ordinating everyday life and institutional structures in London. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

The aim of the thesis is to clarify the meaning of sustainable development by addressing the underlying causalities of sustainability issues - urban social sustainability. This thesis redefines sustainable development as a fundamental interdependency between people's life-chances and their environments. This requires a distinction between the external physical aspect, and the internal social aspect of sustainability. The former is mainly concerned with the interrelationship between the natural environment and human society as a whole; the latter is particularly concerned with the interrelationship between the created environment and individual life-chances. By virtue of the origins and the consequences of sustainability issues, this thesis argues that a proper conception of sustainable development should recover the human scale of development. A socially unsustainable society will inevitably increase exploitation of the natural environment. In other words, to achieve physical sustainability must achieve social sustainability first. Accordingly, the purpose here is to explore the practical meanings of urban social sustainability. Having argued that the expanding logic, and the utilitarian tendency of industrial capitalism, is the underlying cause of the current unsustainable trends, this thesis is mainly concerned with the time-space relations between productive and reproductive activities in a capitalist industrial society. Based on the theory of structuration, the key to understanding the internal social aspects of sustainability is the concept of 'duality'. Individual actions and social structures are not two given sets of entities, a dualism, but represent a duality: the created environment is both the medium, and the constantly reproduced outcome of individual actions. Based on this conceptual framework, the empirical analysis of the concept of urban social sustainability is focused on the time-space connections of the 'institutional webs' in relation to employment, housing, retailing and transport in a concrete urban context - London. It stresses the necessary time-space co-ordination of everyday household life and institutional structures in London. While acknowledging that an integrated, holistic approach to a socially sustainable city is desperately necessary, this thesis concludes that a simple, singular prescription of 'spatial integration' within the existing urban boundaries is inadequate. Rather, what is needed is to place the debate of sustainable cities in a wider regional, and, most importantly, social context, through which the time-space connections between everyday life and institutional structures are more likely to be adequately channelled. Moreover, the stress of households, not individuals, as the links between different institutions also opens up a fresh research scope for urban policy and strategic planning.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, Sociology, Public and Social Welfare
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2251

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