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Open access

We All We Got

Urban Black Ecologies of Care and Mutual Aid

Ashanté M. Reese and Symone A. Johnson

Abstract

Urban ecologies are fraught with inequities, often resulting in humanitarian or charity solutions that emphasize lack rather than communities’ self-determination. While these inequities have been widely documented, the COVID-19 pandemic further reveals how these crises are not the sum result of individual failures. Rather, they are systemically produced through policies that harm people. How do Black urban residents contend with the sociohistorical antagonisms between feelings of scarcity (e.g., food and housing insecurity, underemployment, and financial strain) and aspirations for abundance? Using ethnographic encounters in Chicago and Austin we consider how practices of mutual aid are meaningful both spatially and affectively. First, we explore how mutual aid transforms “decaying” urban spaces to meet residents’ needs. Second, we explore felt experiences of mutuality in social relationships as distinct from authoritarian, charity-based relationality. Thinking these spatial and affective dimensions collectively, we work toward a framework of Black ecologies of care and mutual aid.

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Introduction

Posthuman? Nature and Culture in Renegotiation

Kornelia Engert and Christiane Schürkmann

Abstract

The contributions in this special issue focus on different phenomena and conceptual approaches dealing with “the Posthuman” as a discourse of renegotiating nature-culture-relationships that has emerged over the past decades. The selected articles from fields of sociology, political science, and social anthropology demonstrate how to work with and discuss posthumanistic and post-anthropocentric perspectives, but also how to irritate and criticize universal assumptions of particular posthuman approaches empirically and theoretically. The introduction aims to position the particular contributions in a field of tension between de- and re-centering human beings and human agency.

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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.

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Contemporary Megaprojects

An Introduction

Seth Schindler, Simin Fadaee, and Dan Brockington

Abstract

There is renewed interest in megaprojects worldwide. In contrast to high- modernist megaprojects that were discrete projects undertaken by centralized authorities, contemporary megaprojects are often decentralized and pursued by a range of stakeholders from governments as well as the private sector. They leverage cutting-edge technology to ‘see’ complex systems as legible and singular phenomena. As a result, they are more ambitious, more pervasive and they have the potential to reconfigure longstanding relationships that have animated social and ecological systems. The articles in this issue explore the novel features of contemporary megaprojects, they show how the proponents of contemporary megaprojects aspire to technologically enabled omnipresence, and they document the resistance that megaprojects have provoked.

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.

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Introduction

Indigenous Resurgence, Decolonization, and Movements for Environmental Justice

Jaskiran Dhillon

ABSTRACT

This volume of Environment and Society aims to set forth a theoretical and discursive interruption of the dominant, mainstream environmental justice movement by reframing issues of climate change and environmental degradation through an anticolonial lens. Specifically, the writers for this volume are invested in positioning environmental justice within historical, social, political, and economic contexts and larger structures of power that foreground the relationships among settler colonialism, nature, and planetary devastation.

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Introduction

Civil Society and Urban Agriculture in Europe

Mary P. Corcoran and Joëlle Salomon Cavin

Abstract

This special issue comprises articles by social and environmental scientists, most of whom participated in a working group on governance models and policy contexts of the COST Action TD1106 Urban Agriculture Europe during the period 2012–2016. All have a particular interest in the potentialities of urban agriculture as mediated through civil society actors to contribute to, shape, and transform urban policies in the intersecting fields of land use and access; food and urban ecosystems; education and environment; and history, heritage, and cultural practice. The collaborative, interdisciplinary, and bottom-up character of the contributions broadens and deepens our knowledge of urban agricultural practice across Europe.

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.

Free access

Introduction

Dan Brockington

ABSTRACT

Measuring and being measured are some of the fundamental aspects of our worlds. Without them, we cannot live in our environments or function as social beings. But how we measure, and are measured, and to what ends and purposes, matters a great deal. Measurement does not just record; it shapes, changes, and constitutes things. It is not merely descriptive. It is creative. This introduction to the special issue explores how these themes of measurement are played out in diverse settings, including counting fish stocks, migration, social resilience, local measures of sustainability, oil exploitation, forest conservation, calculating ecosystem services, and measuring heat. Collectively, they provide a better understanding of how crucial measurements are formulated, and how they are and can be contested.