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Open access

Plastic Packaging, Food Supply, and Everyday Life

Adopting a Social Practice Perspective in Social-Ecological Research

Lukas Sattlegger, Immanuel Stieß, Luca Raschewski, and Katharina Reindl

Abstract

This article presents practice-theoretical conceptions of societal relations to nature as a fruitful alternative to common system approaches in social-ecological research. Via the example of plastic food packaging, two different practice-theoretical approaches to food supply are discussed regarding their suitability for relating the material properties of packaging to their everyday use by producers, retailers, and consumers: (1) the network approach (portraying food supply as a network of practices; these practices include material elements that interrelate with other elements like competence or meaning) and (2) the nexus approach (investigating the interrelation between social practices and material arrangements in which they take place). Depending on the given research interest, both perspectives have their pros and cons: the network approach is stronger in understanding the everyday use of technologies, while the nexus approach encourages the integration of infrastructures and environmental contexts that are not directly observable within the practice.

Open access

Adaptation Lived as a Story

Why We Should Be Careful about the Stories We Use to Tell Other Stories

Nicole Klenk

Abstract

Within the field of climate change adaptation research, “stories” are usually simply mined for data, developed as communication and engagement technologies, and used to envision different futures. But there are other ways of understanding people’s narratives. This article explores how we can move away from understanding stories as cultural constructs that represent a reality and toward understanding them as the way in which adaptation is lived. The article investigates questions such as the following: As climate adaptation researchers, what can and should we do when we are told unsolicited stories? How can storytelling, as a way of life rather than as a source of data, inform and elaborate scientific approaches to adaptation research and planning? In this article, I move away from the literature that seeks to develop narrative methods in adaptation science. Instead, I focus on stories that we do not elicit and the world-making practice of storytelling.

Open access

Environmental Expertise as Group Belonging

Environmental Sociology Meets Science and Technology Studies

Rolf Lidskog and Göran Sundqvist

Abstract

What is environmental expertise? The background to this question is that many scholars consider environmental expertise crucial for discovering, diagnosing, and solving environmental problems but do not discuss in any depth what constitutes expertise. By investigating the meaning and use of the concept of expertise in three general theories within environmental sociology—the treadmill of production, risk society, and ecological modernization—and findings from science and technology studies (STS), this article develops a sociological understanding of environmental expertise: what it is and how it is acquired. Environmental expertise is namely about group belonging and professional socialization around specialized skills; that is, it concerns both substantial competence and social recognition. The implications of this general view on expertise are then used to enrich theories in environmental sociology.

Open access

Culturally Grounded Indicators of Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems

Eleanor Sterling, Tamara Ticktin, Tē Kipa Kepa Morgan, Georgina Cullman, Diana Alvira, Pelika Andrade, Nadia Bergamini, Erin Betley, Kate Burrows, Sophie Caillon, Joachim Claudet, Rachel Dacks, Pablo Eyzaguirre, Chris Filardi, Nadav Gazit, Christian Giardina, Stacy Jupiter, Kealohanuiopuna Kinney, Joe McCarter, Manuel Mejia, Kanoe Morishige, Jennifer Newell, Lihla Noori, John Parks, Pua’ala Pascua, Ashwin Ravikumar, Jamie Tanguay, Amanda Sigouin, Tina Stege, Mark Stege, and Alaka Wali

ABSTRACT

Measuring progress toward sustainability goals is a multifaceted task. International, regional, and national organizations and agencies seek to promote resilience and capacity for adaptation at local levels. However, their measurement systems may be poorly aligned with local contexts, cultures, and needs. Understanding how to build effective, culturally grounded measurement systems is a fundamental step toward supporting adaptive management and resilience in the face of environmental, social, and economic change. To identify patterns and inform future efforts, we review seven case studies and one framework regarding the development of culturally grounded indicator sets. Additionally, we explore ways to bridge locally relevant indicators and those of use at national and international levels. The process of identifying and setting criteria for appropriate indicators of resilience in social-ecological systems needs further documentation, discussion, and refinement, particularly regarding capturing feedbacks between biological and social-cultural elements of systems.

Open access

A Crystal Ball for Forests?

Analyzing the Social-Ecological Impacts of Forest Conservation and Management over the Long Term

Daniel C. Miller, Pushpendra Rana, and Catherine Benson Wahlén

ABSTRACT

Citizens, governments, and donors are increasingly demanding better evidence on the effectiveness of development policies and programs. Efforts to ensure such accountability in the forest sector confront the challenge that the results may take years, even decades, to materialize, while forest-related interventions usually last only a short period. This article reviews the broad interdisciplinary literature assessing forest conservation and management impacts on biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, and poverty alleviation in developing countries. It emphasizes the importance of indicators and identifies disconnects between a rapidly growing body of research based on quasi-experimental designs and studies taking a more critical, ethnographic approach. The article also highlights a relative lack of attention on longer-term impacts in both of these areas of scholarship. We conclude by exploring research frontiers in the assessment of the impacts of forest-related interventions with long incubation periods, notably the development of predictive proxy indicators (PPIs).

Open access

Less Than One But More Than Many

Anthropocene as Science Fiction and Scholarship-in-the-Making

Heather Anne Swanson, Nils Bubandt, and Anna Tsing

How might one responsibly review a field just coming into being—such as that provoked by the term Anthropocene? In this article, we argue for two strategies. First, working from the premise that the Anthropocene field is best understood within its emergence, we review conferences rather than publications. In conference performances, we glimpse the themes and tensions of a field-to-come. Second, we interpret Anthropocene as a science-fiction concept, that is, one that pulls us out of familiar space and time to view our predicaments differently. This allows us to explore emergent figurations, genres, and practices for the transdisciplinary study of real and imagined worlds framed by human disturbance. In the interplay and variation across modes for constructing this field, Anthropocene scholarship finds its shape.

Open access

Securitization, alterity, and the state

Human (in)security on an Amazonian frontier

Marc Brightman and Vanessa Grotti

English abstract: Focusing on the region surrounding the Maroni River, which forms the border between Suriname and French Guiana, we examine how relations between different state and non-state social groups are articulated in terms of security. The region is characterised by multiple “borders” and frontiers of various kinds, the state boundary having the features of an interface or contact zone. Several key collectivities meet in this border zone: native Amazonians, tribal Maroon peoples, migrant Brazilian gold prospectors, and metropolitan French state functionaries. We explore the relationships between these different sets of actors and describe how their mutual encounters center on discourses of human and state security, thus challenging the commonly held view of the region as a stateless zone and showing that the “human security” of citizens from the perspective of the state may compete with locally salient ideas or ex- periences of well-being.

Spanish abstract: El artículo examina cómo se articulan las relaciones en términos de seguridad entre grupos estatales y no estatales en la región que rodea el Río Maroni (frontera entre la Guyana francesa y Surinam). La región se caracteriza por múltiples “límites” y tipos de fronteras, teniendo así la frontera Estatal características de una zona de contacto o de una interfaz. Importantes comunidades se encuentran en esta zona de frontera: Nativos del Amazonas, comunidades tribales del Maroni, buscadores de oro brasileños y funcionarios estatales franceses. Los autores exploran las relaciones entre estas diferentes redes de actores, y describen la manera en que sus mutuos encuentros se centran en discursos de seguridad humana y del Estado, desafiando así, el tradicional enfoque que sostiene la región como una zona sin Estado y mostrando que la “seguridad humana” desde la perspectiva del Estado puede competir con importantes ideas locales o con experiencias de bienestar.

French abstract: En se concentrant sur la région entourant le fleuve Maroni, qui forme la frontière entre le Suriname et la Guyane française, nous examinons comment les relations entre les différents groupes sociaux étatiques et non-étatiques sont articulées en termes de sécurité. La région est caractérisée par de multiples «frontières» et les frontières de toutes sortes, la frontière de l'État ayant les caractéristiques d'une interface ou zone de contact. De nombreuses et importantes collectivités se rencontrent dans cette zone frontalière: Indigènes d'Amazonie, la communauté tribale Maroon, les migrants brésiliens à la recherche de l'or et les fonctionnaires d'Etat de la France métropolitaine. Nous explorons les relations entre ces différents groupes d'acteurs, et décrivons la manière dont leurs rencontres mutuelles sont centrées sur les discours relatifs à la sécurité humaine et l'État, remettant ainsi en cause l'idée communément admise de la région en tant zone apatride et montrant par la même que la «sécurité humaine» des citoyens perçue du point de vue de l'État peut rivaliser avec des idées saillantes au niveau local ou des expériences relatives au bien-être.