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Title: A Social Ecology of Asian Global Cities: A Comparative Study of Singapore & Hong Kong
Keywords: social ecology, environmental sociology, hong kong, global cities, comparative studies, singapore
Issue Date: 28-Jul-2009
Citation: GOH SHUZHEN (2009-07-28). A Social Ecology of Asian Global Cities: A Comparative Study of Singapore & Hong Kong. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: What can be attributed to the success of environmental movements? What makes one movement, or environmental group more successful than another? This thesis will be comparing green organizations in Singapore and Hong Kong such as to provide explanations to understanding this puzzle. Being global cities, they both have well-developed economies, well-educated citizenries and have the advantage of excellent networks. However, both cities¿ environmental movements, and individual environmental groups have achieved varying levels of success. What accounts for these differences? Through analyzing the activities and programs of four green organizations, and the lifestyles of their leaders ¿ the Green Volunteers Network and Kampung Senang in Singapore, and Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong) and Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Gardens in Hong Kong ¿ this thesis will draw upon comparisons between these organizations to explain the conditions that give rise to their varying ecological efficacies. Adopting a Bourdieusian approach, it will do so through the introduction, and use of the concept of an ecological habitus and understanding of the field conditions within which these groups/movements are positioned. Situating itself in the larger discussion on-going in social movements theory, this thesis aims also to contribute to the debate between resource mobilization theory (RMT) and new social movements theory (NSMT) by introducing Bourdieu¿s concepts of social and cultural capital to this theoretical discussion, and making use of these concepts to further develop towards a synthesis of both traditions. This thesis will marry the theoretical contributions of Pierre Bourdieu¿s habitus and social/cultural capital, with Murray Bookchin¿s social ecology in a bid to understand how the creation of specific dispositions within a group of people can lead to more effective mobilization of environmental sensibilities; and put in place more impetus for individual agents within these societiesto engage in green behavior. It aims to understand how an ecological habitus is formed and experienced by people, and how the cultivation of cultural- and social capital can effectively alter or maintain the ecological habitus. This thesis, thus proposes two main hypotheses: (1) that the overall effectiveness of the green movements and GOs as a whole, in Singapore and Hong Kong can be attributed to the differences in urban planning processes and resulting socio-cultural organization of societies in these cities. Through comparing the GOs in Singapore and Hong Kong, it will illustrate the ways in which social and cultural capital more effectively mobilized in Hong Kong due to the patterns of socio-cultural organization brought about by state policies and positions; (2) that place-bound conservationist / social ecological approach to social mobilization is more effective than systems-based sustainable developmental approaches. The effectiveness of a GO lies fundamentally in their ability cultivate social capital. The effective use of cultural capital is thus a means through which they can improve their social capital, through which they are able to achieve greater levels of success and effectiveness in their programs.
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