Environmental capital as cultural capital : environmentalism and identity-formation in the Indian middle class

Sastry, Deepti (2015) Environmental capital as cultural capital : environmentalism and identity-formation in the Indian middle class. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

The environment as a conceptual category is utilised by middle-class Delhites to negotiate and exhibit differences from one another as well as from other class fractions, particularly the poor. This thesis employs Bourdieu’s tools of habitus and cultural capital as a point of departure to explore how the environment is embodied by various class fractions. Additionally, in recognising the complex social, economic and cultural environment in contemporary, post-liberalisation India the thesis explores the conscious processes that are employed by fractions of the middle class as subjective experiences of the environment: forms of environmentality (Agarwal, 2005). This is done through a series of case studies. The first case analyses formal environmental education in three Delhi schools. Students showed knowledge and concerns that focused largely on proximate concerns and, in fee-paying schools, narratives of wildlife conservation. These narratives were also reinforced in the curriculum, which emphasised local environmental issues and reaffirmed class boundaries through the language of the environment. The second case study explores how residents of two middle-class neighbourhoods embody the environment as social practice and how their local subjectivities influence how and in what form they engage with the environment. The final case study examines the ways in which the environment is embodied and discursively framed by middle-class members of two wildlife clubs. Members of the two clubs conceptualised the environment quite differently, reflecting different fractions of the middle class: specifically, an upwardly mobile consuming global new middle class and an older, post-Independence (Nehruvian) middle class. Together these case studies suggest that the environment is both embodied, in different forms of social practice, in addition to being consciously negotiated, drawing on their subjective experiences of the environment.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > Geography, Environment & Development Studies
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2016 12:23
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 12:47
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/160

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