At the heart of any form of prosperity lie the desires, aspirations, needs and capabilities of ordinary people, which help to inform ideas of what constitutes a good life. Yet it is clear that visions of a good life, and good work are also shaped by aspects of locality, and along lines of social difference. Exploring diverse visions of the good life, and how these vary within different contexts, settings and at different points of the lifecourse, underpins our work within CUSP – the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity.
In this talk we will focus on two studies exploring what a good life means to ordinary people. Firstly, we will discuss our recently completed work with residents and stakeholders in Stoke-on-Trent which forms part of a series of case studies we are conducting in the UK. In our selection of Stoke-on-Trent our goal was to understand the motivations and expectations of ordinary citizens for a good life living within a culturally diverse and socio-economically deprived area where its strong sense of identity is both a help and a hindrance to living well.
Secondly we will introduce our current work with children and young people taking place in a number of urban settings around the world (CYCLES: Children and Youth in Cities: Lifestyle evaluations and sustainability). In CYCLES we are asking similar questions, but in speaking to 12-24 year olds we will be capturing their perspectives at a time when footprints for energy use and habits of consumption are becoming established, and aspirations and attitudes for a good life are forming.
Kate Burningham is a Reader in Sociology of the Environment at the University of Surrey. She is Deputy Director of CUSP and leads the CUSP theme on social and psychological understandings of the good life. Her research interests focus on the social construction of environmental problems, public environmental knowledge, environmental inequalities and sustainable lifestyles. Susan Venn is a Research Fellow in CUSP (Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity) at the University of Surrey, working with Kate Burningham on CUSP theme S1 on social and psychological understandings of the good life. Her research interests focus on sustainable lifestyles, everyday practices and lifecourse transitions.