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Sustainable Livelihoods on the Isle of Skye

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Hilary Talbot, Dr Lorna Dargan, Emeritus Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE


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The island of Skye off the west coast of Scotland, UK, is used in this chapter as a case study to investigate the ‘performance’ of sustainable development by enterprises. The term sustainable development, in regular policy parlance, has come to convey development that takes social, economic and ecological (or environmental) sustainability into account. However, widespread acceptance by the EU member states ‘has led, not so much to change in policies and development strategies, but rather to an adoption of a common terminology that at best has some effects at the level of principles, strategies and policy programmes (where intentions are formulated), but much less at the level of implementation and actor strategies (where ideas are realized)’ (CORASON 2006, 82). What can we understand from starting from what local entrepreneurs actually do, rather than from high-level rhetoric about sustainable development? This analysis does not aim to capture the totality of activity on Skye that might contribute to sustainable rural development. The performances that are investigated here are some that might traditionally fall under the rubric of ‘economic development’; the approach in this chapter is to look at how they deviate from modern economic thought which conceptualizes the economy as an autonomous ‘interlocking system of markets that automatically adjust supply and demand through the price mechanism’ (Block 2001), in which self-interested actors maximize individual profit. The aim is to raise the profile of this group of ‘alternative’ actors, and to discuss their approach as one that has a contribution to make to sustainable rural development.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Talbot H, Dargan L, Shucksmith M

Editor(s): Bruckmeier K and Tovey H

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Rural Sustainable Development in the Knowledge Society

Year: 2009

Pages: 23-38

Publisher: Ashgate

Place Published: London

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780754674252