Title: Research as a tool for change?

Authors: Susanna Elfors

Addresses: Built Environment Analysis, Urban Studies, KTH Architecture and the Built Environment, Royal Institute of Technology, Drottning Kristinas vag 30, 3rd floor, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: action research; action-oriented environmental research; environmental sustainability; sustainable housing; environmental mangement; housing management; participatory action research; PAR; research methodology; research strategy; sustainability research; tragedy of the commons; sustainable development; case studies; Sweden.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSD.2006.010935

International Journal of Sustainable Development, 2006 Vol.9 No.1, pp.1 - 15

Published online: 18 Sep 2006 *

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