Possibilities Of Green Publicity? Justifications And Critiques In Debates Over Organic Agriculture And Food
University of Helsinki, Finland
This paper discusses the issue of green justifications in pragmatic sociology. While green justifications can be seen as an important part of this analytical framework both because of the increasing significance of environmental problems, and on the further development of pragmatic sociology itself, the issue has remained somewhat under-theorised. By examining the development of organic agriculture in Finland, this paper examines how have actors attempted to construct green commonality and ecological bonds, and how have these attempts on the other hand been criticized. Organic agriculture offers a suitable case study, as it has emerged as a critique of conventional, techno-scientific agriculture. The conflict between organic and conventional agriculture therefore presents a case where actors are required to raise above their particular interests and to articulate conceptions about the common good. While numerous other forms of justification have played a important role in the development of organic agriculture, questions about environmental benefits and connections with nature have been at the core of these debates. The analysis then focuses especially on the question of whether green justifications have been able to distinguish themselves from competing principles of justification, and establish the green order of worth as an independent form of valuation.
Pragmatic Sociology And The Environmentalism Of Everyday Life
Pragmatic sociology can help to shed light on the varieties of environmentalisms that participate in shaping our societies at different scale, from the local to the global. Beyond allowing for a more precise understanding of “environmental conflicts as conflicts of valuation”, pragmatic sociology-inspired analytical tools can help to explain the political and ecological relevance of what I am going to define as “context-sensitive value practices”. These value practices are a key feature of the so-called “environmentalism of everyday life” whose development is crucial for the emergence of “cosmopolitan communities of earth care”.
My starting point is the discussion of how current theorizations of environmentalism in social movements studies fail to address the implications of the semantic ambiguity of the term environment, intended as both a reality subjectively experienced in processes of becoming and an external constraint or resource. This semantic ambiguity mirrors a variety of modes of valuation of the environment that orient people “value practices” and participate in shaping ecologies. Following Laurent Thévenot’s work on regimes of engagement, I will distinguish between “emplaced”, goal-oriented and abstract modes of valuation. Value practices and their ecologies are stabilized and maintained through fixing conventions, developing techniques and producing arguments that support them as legitimate. Environmental movements can thus be defined as actors that elaborate arguments concerning what the environment is and why it is of value: these arguments articulate value practices and socio-technical imaginaries. As a conclusion, I discuss how this approach helps to shed light on the relevance of the intersection between politics, ontologies and ecologies for the understanding of the current forms of environmental critique.
Communities Of Green Collaboration: Composing Commonalities In Collaborative Planning Of Public Urban Green Space
University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Recent years has seen public landowners, from local governments to state branches, formally collaborating with civil society associations, private organizations and other institutional actors on the physical development of public urban green space. This development in urban planning sees new types of actors engaged. Far from only being classical green groups, such as environmental or outdoor associations, a broader range of civic, private and institutional actors, with a desire to use a public urban green space in different ways, are involved presenting a great diversity in the goals and motivations of the collaboration partners. As formal partners, they now take part in planning processes on the development and care of a public urban green space. Such efforts, here termed collaborative planning, compel the public landowners to adopt a different approach to green space management adjusted to the various practical engagements and resources of the collaboration partners. At the same time, an ongoing commitment is essential for public strategic planning and for the success of the green collaboration. Drawing on empirical findings from fieldwork in three such green collaborations in Denmark and deploying the notion of 'commonality in the plural' from pragmatic sociology, I want to further investigate, how commonality is built in these collaborations between the public landowners and a diverse set of civic, private and institutional partners. How do these formal communities of green collaboration successfully compose a common ground that enable them to create and maintain their coherence and collective efficacy over time?
The Politics of Urban Greenspace Engagements
University of Copenhagen, Denmark
So far, pragmatic sociology in general and Laurent Thévenot’s sociology of engagements in particular has been mobilized almost exclusively in qualitative studies. The present study adapts the perspective for quantitative inquiry, presenting the results of a national representative survey (N ≈ 1.500) on engagements in urban green spaces in Denmark.
The questionnaire captures a variety of engagements across familiar, individual and justificatory formats and their communality correlates: ‘personal affinities to commonplaces,’ ‘choice in a liberal public,’ and ‘plural orders of worth’ (Thévenot 2015). Specifically, it covers use of, preferences for and civic engagement in local greenspaces among the Danish urban population as well as regimes of justification. Of the justification questions, some operationalize the eight ‘cités’ so far identified by French pragmatist sociology (Boltanski and Chiapello 1999; Boltanski and Thévenot 1991; Thévenot, Moody, and Lafaye 2000) while others situate respondents in scenarios of controversy in relation to urban greenspaces and invite them to select justificatory responses.
The study uses correspondence analysis, previously employed in studies by Boltanski (2007; 1984) to visualize relational patterns in complex data. By emphasizing contrasts in the data, correspondence analysis is particularly apt for the quantitative study of the politics of urban greenspace engagements. Thus, the analysis will produce a ‘space of engagements’ across formats and communalities, shedding light on the overall landscape not only of controversies and compromises but also of familiar attachments and individual plans in relation to local urban greenspaces in Denmark.
Ways of Building Commonality for Environmental Justice. About Current Academic Debates in Human Sciences
University of Lorraine, France
After other researchers (Luhtakallio & Tavory 2018), I will confront the sociology of engagements to a considerable challenge: the global controversies about the ecological sustainability of the socioeconomic system. I will focus on the emergence of public debates on Environmental Justice which appeared in the two last decades, after some scientists whistleblowed the common entrance in the Anthropocene epoch. Alongside with movements activists, scholars from various disciplines in human sciences participate in debates about the redefinition of justice and politics in the situation of an endangered human dwelling on earth. How to include biosphere and natural beings in the commonality? How to conceive the possibility of global justice between Northern and Southern societies since the first ones, rich and industrial, are collectively the main responsible for the global warming ? The method of the sociology of engagements offers a precious perspective to go beyond oppositions between assertions conversally considered as unconciliable, especially by recognizing that the commoning processes cannot only rest on operations of generalization in the public spheres. First-person experiences have to be taken into account (Centemeri 2015). But experiences cannot be automatically treated as pure or genuine (vs. « fictive » conventional generalizations which can be denounced as untrue or factice) in the processes of commoning, without generating major problems for a pluralistic perspective. Contemporary commonality building seems to face a double danger: the hegemony of universal (and often quantified) orders of worth, and the (re)emergence of the idea of the incommunicability of experiences. I will illustrate this thesis through the figuration of two academic debates : the first one in social-ecological economics (Costanza/Escobar/Hornborg&Malm); the second one in cultural anthropology (Descola vs Ingold).