Laura McGuire: “Community Gardening and Social Prescription: An Ethnographic Exploration”

In Students by General Account

  • Durham University
  • Health, Well-Being & Society
  • laura.e.mcguire@durham.ac.uk
  • @_lauramcguire_

Green spaces have a place in popular imagination as healthful, restorative, and good places. The protection, creation, and use of green space has variously been envisaged as part of solutions to problems ranging from the climate crisis, to apparent health service funding crises. Yet, accessibility to, and confidence and competency within such spaces varies between individuals, and between social groups. Through ethnographic inquiry, I will investigate how those who organise and participate in green space activities, specifically, community gardening practices, understand their practices. I will situate these understandings in relation to ideas about morality, constructions of ‘nature’, and conceptions of health and wellbeing. Both ‘health’ and ‘nature’ are complex topics. Nature-based approaches to wellbeing may be imagined as the anthesis to reductionist and mechanical approaches to wellbeing that are common in public health and biomedicine forums. Yet, nature-based approaches have too been accused of being sometimes reductionist, individualising, and essentialising. Mainstream healthcare and ‘nature’ converge in the expansion of ‘green’ social prescribing (as part of the NHS Long Term Plan 2019), and I will explore how the integration of community gardening and social prescribing influences and changes understandings of health and nature.

My undergraduate degree was a BSc in Anthropology from University College London, which was followed with an MA in Research Methods undertaken at Durham University. During my PhD, I hope to continue to explore healthism, health and social inequality, social justice, and critical weight studies.