Nature and well-being
: building social and emotional capital through environmental volunteering

  • Stuart Muirhead

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis explores the interaction between well-being and environmental volunteering. Focusing on five case study groups across Scotland, the emotional, social and physical well-being impacts of active environmental volunteer work are examined. Through an extensive ethnographic approach incorporating in-depth interviewing, participant observation and focus group work the thesis highlights the importance of studying the initial and continuing motivations for individuals to participate in environmental volunteering. This retains a particular focus on emotional and embodied volunteer experiences, exploring the importance of tasks and landscapes on the volunteering encounters. In considering the meaning of volunteering, the thesis also explores linkages of community and citizenship and how individuals frame and understand their volunteering, especially in relation to the environmental aspects of the work. This speaks directly to academic themes of embodiment, human-nature interactions, emotional geographies and social capital. The studentship was an ESRC-CASE funded project, with the CASE partner being Forestry Commission Scotland. The research takes place within a dynamic political context that encompasses current research and work on volunteering and natural environment encounters within Scotland and the UK as a whole. The thesis looks to inform ongoing policy relevant debates on environmental volunteering within both the Forestry Commission Scotland and the Scottish Government.
    Date of AwardApr 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorFiona Smith (Supervisor) & Nicholas Fyfe (Supervisor)


    • Volunteering
    • Well-being
    • Nature
    • Emotional geography

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