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Making sense of the social: human-nonhuman constellations and the wicked road to sustainability

Author(s): Juha Hiedanpää | Ari Jokinen | Pekka Jokinen

Journal: Sustainability : Science, Practice and Policy
ISSN 1548-7733

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 40;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: human-environment relationship | environmental sociology | conflict resolution | animal welfare | wildlife management | case studies

Social questions become especially tangible in the context of human-nonhuman interrelations. This article focuses on coexistential practices in the context of management, protection, and production and it clarifies how the social in particular empirical cases is enacted. The work is based on three empirical case studies. We explore the conflicts in forestry and urban planning caused by the Siberian flying squirrel; the increased presence of the grey wolf; and the paradox of the domestic pig—a clever animal that is treated harshly by factory-farming practices. As our cases indicate, the social is not a group of people living in a certain setting according to certain norms and traditions. The social is a contingent, activated constellation of interagentivities that emerges together with a shared concern that particular customs and habits are not serving the purpose they are expected to serve. The cases challenge efforts to adopt a human-centered view of the social as the basis for developing the concept of sustainability. They also indicate that there is no one social sustainability, but rather many articulations of the concept.
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