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Open access

Introduction

Oceans

Amelia Moore and Jerry K. Jacka

Abstract

In this introduction, we introduce the new editors of the journal and the new members of the editorial board. We then summarize the articles, highlighting the intellectual contributions they make to an environmental and social analysis of the world's oceans, ocean scientists, and marine species.

Open access

Navigating Shifting Regimes of Ocean Governance

From UNCLOS to Sustainable Development Goal 14

Ana K. Spalding and Ricardo de Ycaza

Abstract

Recent decades have seen a rapid increase in the diversity of ocean uses and threats, leading to the Anthropocene ocean: a place fraught with challenges for governance such as resource collapse, pollution, and changing sea levels and ocean chemistry. Here we review shifts in ocean governance regimes from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the first legal regime for the global ocean, to Sustainable Development Goal 14 and beyond. This second period represents a merging of growing international interest in the ocean as part of the global sustainable development agenda—characterized by a focus on knowledge, collaboration, and the formation of alliances between diverse actors and institutions of environmental governance. To conduct this review, we analyzed literature on changing actors, regimes, and institutional arrangements for ocean governance over time. We conclude with a summary of challenges and opportunities for future ocean governance.

Open access

New Materialist Approaches to Fisheries

The Birth of “Bycatch”

Lauren Drakopulos

Abstract

For the past 40 years, bycatch has been a significant focus of fisheries science and management, yet bycatch has evaded clear definition persisting as a perennial fisheries concern. This article brings insights from new materialism to examine the ontological politics of bycatch. Building on new materialist approaches to oceans and fisheries, the article contributes to the bycatch debate by putting forth a new framework for understanding bycatch as multiple, enacted through the material-discursive practices of science and policy. Through a survey of policy and scientific documents, the article traces the emergence of “bycatch” as a global fisheries issue. The analysis broadens the orderings and normative understandings about human and nonhuman life inflected by post-humanist and new materialist traditions, as well as fisheries science and policy.

Open access

Ocean Thinking

The Work of Ocean Sciences, Scientists, and Technologies in Producing the Sea as Space

Susannah Crockford

Abstract

How do scientists produce the ocean as space through their work and words? In this article, I examine how the techniques and tools of oceanographers constitute ocean science. Bringing theoretical literature from science and technology studies on how scientists “do” science into conversation with fine-grained ethnographic and sociological accounts of scientists in the field, I explore how ocean science is made, produced, and negotiated. Within this central concern, the technologies used to obtain data draw particular focus. Juxtaposed with this literature is a corpus by ocean scientists about their own work as well as interview data from original research. Examining the differences between scientists’ self-descriptions and analyses of them by social scientists leads to a productive exploration of how ocean science is constituted and how this work delineates the ocean as a form of striated space. This corpus of literature is placed in the context of climate change in the final section.

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

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.