The PhD was finished in Sept 2010 and I was examined on it at the end of November 2010. Fortunately I didn’t have to do any corrections apart from typos and grammar. Even then, a few still managed to sneak through.
Like all PhDs is is a weighty tome. It really tries to bring two things together. Firstly, how we might think about alternative places, and secondly whether such places are good for alternative economic experiments such as local food systems, local currencies etc.
In the thesis I develop the idea of an alternative milieu to explain the nature of alternative places. This reflects a localised diversity of countercultural practices, institutions and networks. The root causes of the emergence of the milieu was the Dartington utopian experiment which attracted a number of free thinking people to the area from the 1920s onwards. In the 1970s there was a collision between the Dartington milieu and the ideas of the Counterculture which led to the emergence of the alternative milieu. This then became a self-sustaining phenomena, primarily through processes of reputation and migration.
In terms of whether alternative places are better for radical local economic experiments, the answer, in the case of Totnes, is: not really. There has been a lot of alternative economic experimentation around the Totnes area but the density of alternative practices and cultures doesn’t really seem to make these things more viable in the longer term. However, what it does seem to do is make it a fertile site for experimentation, a kind of social laboratory for more radical ideas. One of the chapters deals with this idea and I am currently turning it into a paper. When it is ready I will publish the details here.
So, if you are interested in theorising alternative economic possibilities then the PhD might be interesting for you. However, if you are more interested in alternative Totnes then I would only recommend reading Chapter 6, or the paper which is here.
The PhD can be downloaded from here