Socio-Materiality as Phenomenon: Growing Transition Culture
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The introductory chapter can be freely disseminated on ORE, since copyright in it has not been assigned by the author to a third party. In relation to the monograph that forms the bulk of the submission, however, copyright has been assigned to the University of Plymouth Press for the legal duration of the copyright term (life of the author + 70 years). This second segment of the thesis is therefore going to be deposited in physical form (a paper copy of the published monograph), for it to be available at the University Library, but cannot be made available on ORE for the duration of the copyright term.
This thesis innovates on existing literature on the Transition movement by relinquishing stock academic definitions of its ends and means, which purportedly spell out what Transition ‘is’. In its stead, it approaches Transition as phenomenon, namely as an evolving socio-material formation that proliferates a cultural repertoire to sustain a growing range of concerted everyday activities. This is the difference between an instrumental focus, whereby Transition is reduced to a strategy which is oriented towards an unchanging programmatic definition, and an orientational one; the latter attuned to the contingent process by which a movement expresses form and orientation in emergent fashion. The monograph and the introductory chapter contribute to this task in different ways. Everything Gardens and Other Stories undertakes a rich description of various practical realms of Transition and, to capture the coming into being of a phenomenon, it pays particular attention to its developmental trajectory. This entails focusing on the generative movement of the culture of Transition, as it emerges from the attempt to address embodied disquiets originally elicited by information about peak oil and climate change. That initial focus, however, forms merely a station along a path in which new sources of anxiety find validation and prompt further cultural production. The monograph also describes the tensions arising in the process, as a growing body of discursive and material resources have to negotiate an accommodation, in order to become reciprocally recognisable as participant parts enfolded in a common cultural milieu. The introductory chapter supports this account by fleshing out a methodological paradigm that helps direct attention to the unfolding of a socio-material phenomenon in its dilemmatic moments and continual negotiations. For this purpose, starting from canonical sources in phenomenology, it goes on to situate the ‘unfolding’ of a phenomenon in the proliferation of entanglements between actors, human and nonhuman. In the ‘mattering’ of a phenomenon so understood, dilemmatic moments call forth an ethical questioning and an ontological politics immanent to the very process of cultural production. This, it is submitted, is precisely how an orientational focus allows to access Transition as phenomenon, beyond the bounds of academic definitions.
The monograph that forms the basis of this PhD by Publication was published by the University of Plymouth Press and is the copyright of the author, Luigi Russi. A copy is available for reference in the Main Library. Please check the University Library catalogue for details.
L. Russi (2015). Everything Gardens and Other Stories: Growing Transition Culture (Plymouth: University of Plymouth Press)
PhD by Publication in Sociology