Designing a Livable (Mega)City for All: An Ethnographic Exploration of Sustainability Expertise in Los Angeles

This research collection is organized to support a study of the role and impact of experts and expertise on Angelinos in the planning, design, and positioning of Los Angeles as a sustainable (mega)city. Through ethnographic methodologies, including interviews with leading sustainability experts in Los Angeles (from government, higher education, and private/non-profit sectors), expert ethnography (participant observation of the production and dissemination of expert knowledge), and analyses of relevant published reports, plans, and guidelines, the study will increase our understanding of the pathways by which individuals become sustainability experts, the materials through which they signify and demonstrate their expertise, and, importantly, the implications of the expert’s sustainable vision for Angelinos. What does this expert community focus on, highlight, leave out or cover-up? Following Melissa Checker, this study asks how “the a-political language of sustainability” impacts sustainability expert's ability to address the toxicity that characterizes late industrialism? The study is part of a larger project to understand “late industrial” California through examinations of ways interlocking scales and systems together produce risks, vulnerabilities, and governance challenges.


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