Socioeconomics Research Seminar
The grassroots activation as a facilitator of transition to a circular economy
Socio-cultural context is a crucial factor in the successful implementation of circularity framework, especially in the case of cultural heritage projects that relate to local identity, shared history and place attachment. Enabling the behavioral change among community members allows for the introduction of the central tenets of circular economy, which must be realized not only through changes in build environment or emergence of new business models but in stakeholders’ everyday choices and overall mindset.
It is a significant challenge to introduce change as well as measure it, to make sure that the impact of circular interventions is socially sustainable, and the accompanying ideas are embraced by local community. Societal and cultural factors can facilitate bringing new ideas and helping the circular processes took off, but just as well they may become main barriers in successful implementation. Fear of change, existing habits and traditions are not always fertile ground for fostering circular solutions. On the contrary, some of the studied examples of cultural heritage adaptive re-use highlight existing social barriers that cause those projects to grow in specific isolation from the local community and hinder their potential positive impacts on the grassroots level.
On the other hand, some investments in circular re-adaptation resulted in unexpected positive results and spill-over effects that increased the wellbeing of local communities. While socio-cultural factors remain crucial for overall success of the circular economy, they are also the most elusive and understudied. I will argue the role of specific features of local communities that may be decisive to successful circular project implementation.
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