Some of the material in is restricted to members of the community. By logging in, you may be able to gain additional access to certain collections or items. If you have questions about access or logging in, please use the form on the Contact Page.
The concept of sustainability is theoretically comprised of three distinct dimensions: environmental, economic, and social. Most public and academic discourse, however, focuses on environmental and economic sustainability to the neglect of social sustainability, which refers to a condition where an extended set of basic needs are met for all residents regardless of their race/ethnicity, age, religion, gender, socioeconomic status and/or level of ability and the highest possible level of social inclusion and participation in community life is promoted. While some scholars and policymakers have recently turned their attention to social sustainability, conceptualizing and assessing social sustainability is fraught with problems. In this dissertation, I develop a comprehensive social sustainability assessment framework that focuses on six key policy areas: housing, transportation, food, leisure and recreation, social cohesion, and identity and sense of place. I then incorporate data on Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland into the social sustainability framework in order to conduct a comparative analysis of the cities' relative degree of social sustainability. My analysis--which brings both qualitative and quantitative data to bear on 30 social sustainability criteria--indicates that Vancouver is ranked higher than Seattle and Portland in terms of social sustainability. I then adapt and use two sociological theories of policy development--institutional politics theory and power constellations theory, which tend to focus on the national or state level--to test which one better explains the differential level of social sustainability in the aforementioned cities. In short, I find that power constellations theory best explains why Vancouver has the most socially sustainable policies and programs, primarily due to the strength of organized labor and center-left political parties in the city. Overall, this dissertation contributes to research on social policy development and social sustainability and provides scholars and policymakers with a deeper understanding of the institutional and political determinants of social sustainability.
Comparative-Historical Analysis, Institutional Politics Theory, Power Constellations Theory, Social Sustainability, Urban Policy
Date of Defense
May 30, 2014.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Sociology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Douglas Schrock, Professor Directing Dissertation; Andy Opel, University Representative; Jill Quadagno, Committee Member; Daniel Tope, Committee Member.
Florida State University
Use and Reproduction
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s). The copyright in theses and dissertations completed at Florida State University is held by the students who author them.