This paper focuses upon lay knowledge and sustainability concepts that shape and reflect environmental policy implementation and public reactions to environmental participatory forums in Connemara, Ireland. Drawing on in-depth qualitative fieldwork from a mixed-method study of knowledge in Connemara, the paper argues that local understandings of sustainability which prioritise lay knowledge for future generations both helps and hinders successful environmental participation. These definitions of sustainability are central to how community actors define what constitutes effective environmental participation. Many established locals draw upon these sustainability ideals to justify the deliberate exclusion of recent settlers to the area from environmental participatory forums. Insights revealed here on how local cultural conventions pertaining to language use, ‘defensive localism’ and insider–outsider distinctions affect participation in rural Ireland are highly significant for understanding barriers to effective environmental governance and the complexity of local perceptions of participation, sustainability and policy-making.
- Lay knowledge
- policy implementation