Ecologies and economies of action: sustainability, calculations, and other things

Hinchliffe, Stephen; Kearnes, Matthew B.; Degen, Monica and Whatmore, Sarah (2007). Ecologies and economies of action: sustainability, calculations, and other things. Environment and Planning A, 39(2) pp. 260–282.



In ecological, environmental, and urban-regeneration terms, the participatory turn and the turn to action have been written about at length in both academic and official literatures. From neighbourhood renewal to lay ecologies, people are being `given' all kinds of agency in the making
of economy and ecology. Yet relatively little has been said regarding the financial organisation of this new populism, which is often achieved through calculation and audit, and the framing of a return. In this paper we look at the uneasy coalition of civic action and its calculability. It focuses on the funding and running of a British Pakistani and Bangladeshi women's gardening initiative in inner city Birmingham, England. We fuse empirical work with gardeners and funding agencies with theoretical understandings of calculation in order to argue for a mode of organisation that not only includes a
responsibility to act but also a responsibility to otherness. Rather than arguing for or against calculation, we describe a more diverse ecology of action and in so doing open arguments for reconfiguring the ways in which sustainable activities are funded.

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