Can ecological distribution conflicts turn into forces for sustainability? This overview paper addresses in a systematic conceptual manner the question of why, through whom, how, and when conflicts over the use of the environment may take an active role in shaping transitions toward sustainability. It presents a conceptual framework that schematically maps out the linkages between (a) patterns of (unsustainable) social metabolism, (b) the emergence of ecological distribution conflicts, (c) the rise of environmental justice movements, and (d) their potential contributions for sustainability transitions. The ways how these four processes can influence each other are multi-faceted and often not a foretold story. Yet, ecological distribution conflicts can have an important role for sustainability, because they relentlessly bring to light conflicting values over the environment as well as unsustainable resource uses affecting people and the planet. Environmental justice movements, born out of such conflicts, become key actors in politicizing such unsustainable resource uses, but moreover, they take sometimes also radical actions to stop them. By drawing on creative forms of mobilizations and diverse repertoires of action to effectively reduce unsustainabilities, they can turn from ‘victims’ of environmental injustices into ‘warriors’ for sustainability. But when will improvements in sustainability be lasting? By looking at the overall dynamics between the four processes, we aim to foster a more systematic understanding of the dynamics and roles of ecological distribution conflicts within sustainability processes.
Past Monday 6th of October I attended a creative writing workshop in Gdansk, the city I live in. Although the workshop’s first aim was creative writing, the exposition and discussion was quiet focus on environmental issues, and the way we can write and persuade others about current environmental problems. It seemed to me more focused on literature-like writing, but some things are also applicable to research. Also, the truth is that in a hardly three hours workshop one can’t go a long way. However, I would like to point out a few things.
First, always bear in mind who is your audience. It may be your friends, family, the ones that you want them to be proud of you. Although this is unlikely when talking about research writing. Or a more general audience. It’s important to have this clear even before starting to write.
Secondly, we live in a global world and people sometimes tend to write on things that happen in a rather undefined place. However, people matter what happen here and now. Although this two concepts “here” and “now” may be seen as too ambiguous, it’s important to reflect on them. They probably depend on your audience. It may be your city, your country or just your neighbour, but never think about the place you live as banal. It reminds me to one Pierre Bourdieu’s sentence when doing a research on his own hometown, he named this perspective as the “banal exotic”. Another thing is, and this is my own opinion,
Last but not least, how to attract your audience?, the first paragraph is often crucial. Here, Tony spoke of the importance of addressing issues related to the emotions of our audience as a way to attract attention (Again, not applicable to research, to my way of thinking) This can become complicated when our audience is very diverse. What for some may be captivating, for others it’s simply irrelevant. At certain moment (when discussing on how to raise awareness on climate change) I suggested that we should try to make our audience see that their everyday life is somehow connected with environmental problems that are happening very far. Also (and I just come up with this idea) the more diverse is your audience, let’s say worldwide, the more you need to appeal those aspects and values that define human beings, i.e. those things that we all as humans share and have one unmistakable meaning as love, friendship, nostalgia, etc.
Other interesting things that raised throughout the workshop were the need of having a solid structure of what we want to write as well as choosing the right moment on the day to do it. Maybe the very morning, during the night etc. Though here I’d like to warn that, according to my experience, the structure may quite change again and over again during the writing process. One inspiring writing technique that Tony suggested (rather non-research related): ask yourself: can I tell my whole life in three minutes?. The results of this exercise could give way to a great, touching and creative piece of writing. Seek and patiently observe, for example, a picture of your childhood that you think best defines who you are.
I find this journal very interesting to publish some of my work.
Coming March 2015!
Sociology of Development is an international journal addressing issues of development, broadly considered. With basic as well as policy-oriented research, topics explored include economic development and well-being, gender, health, inequality, poverty, environment and sustainability, political economy, conflict, social movements, and more.
Sociology of Development promotes and encourages intellectual diversity within the study of development, with articles from all scholars of development sociology, regardless of theoretical orientation, methodological preference, region of investigation, or historical period of study, and from fields not limited to sociology, and including political science, economics, geography, anthropology, and health sciences.