Production of Scottish Open Gardens: differences in perception of power
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Open Gardens are those in private homes that have been opened as visitor attractions, where a proportion of money charged for entry is given to charity. Whilst there is a body of literature on garden visiting, there is little empirical research into garden opening. In addition, the existing studies, which were largely based on quantitative methods, do not differentiate between the roles and perspectives of the various agents who produce garden openings. This research investigates how Open Gardens, under the auspices of the charitable organisation Scotland’s Gardens, are collaboratively produced by garden openers, their helpers, volunteers and salaried staff of the organisation. The principal method of data collection was fieldwork that included participant observations from 39 site visits and 41 semi-structured interviews with the four kinds of producers. Supplementary data were generated from archival documents that record the historical development of Open Gardens. Data collected from fieldwork were analysed and categorised according to themes emerging by means of domain analysis. Each theme was carefully defined and described by creating thematic codes. After the preliminary data analysis, ongoing reading of various social theory literatures drew me towards using concepts of power to more deeply understand the nuanced ways in which the four kinds of producers work together. Hearn’s (2012) theoretical framework was employed to examine how power which differs in perception between the various agents in a given social situation operates in the production of Scottish Open Gardens. The data suggest that the meaning of legitimate power exercised by the producers of Scottish Open Gardens is often highly subjective. Some volunteers were reluctant to fully exercise their power to instruct garden openers because they assumed their request would not be accepted or that it would lead to unwanted conflict. Some garden openers concealed their intentions to show off their horticultural achievements through engagement with Scottish Open Gardens, because they perceived that others would regard pursuing such personal interests to be egocentric. The data also suggest that the production of Scottish Open Gardens is partly dependent on non-human forces such as nature or materials. The quality of gardens, the number of visitors and the amount raised for charity were determined by weather conditions, public transportation and even the refreshments on offer. The findings highlight the role of such non-human elements in the production of Scottish Open Gardens, and challenges the conventional premise that human-intentionality alone defines agency. The thesis concludes that the production of Scottish Open Gardens can be more deeply understood by considering the highly fluid, subjective and non-human ways in which power operates. There is no definitively powerful agent present, as the locus of power is continually contested between a rich and complex mixture of human and non-human agents. An implication for practice is that Scotland’s Gardens should clarify which agents may be more or less empowered in given aspects of Open Garden production, and the ways in which his or her power can and should be legitimised. The thesis also offers a broad theoretical framework which may help to more deeply understand the subtle power operations present in the co-production of outdoor leisure and tourism pursuits.