Sustainability as a Symbolic Resource at the Local Level, and Its Strategic Uses

A Study in Northern Italy

in Ethnologia Europaea
Elena Apostoli Cappello EHESS - Cnrs

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This article focuses on sustainability understood as a source of political legitimation. I explore political imaginaries and the future as a cognitive resource among two small farming communities in Northern Italy, discussing what transformation towards sustainability means at a concrete level and how this definition may be used strategically in political negotiations to access resources. Ethnographically rooted, this study uses reflexivity and researcher’s positioning as a tool to better understand the farmer’s social and cultural frameworks, related conflicts, and strategies for surviving. Rhetoric and practices about sustainability establish a symbolic resource that allows gaining new agency spaces. Temporalities regimes are examined here, in order to grasp the identity-making and the self-differentiation processes among the farmers.

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