Jana Holz at the IUFRO World Congress 2024

On 27 June Jana Holz will speak at the World Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) in Stockholm on ‘Human-Forest Relationship – Ambiguity in “taking care of the forest”’ together with Jaana Laine (LUT University, Lappeenranta, Finland) and Ronja Mikoleit (Department of Societal Change of the Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg, Germany and University of Freiburg, Germany).


The attitudes of humans toward forests can be defined as human-forest relationships, combining historical and modern aspects. These relationships affect global, societal, and individual forest-related aims and practices. This session discusses the importance of diverse human-forest relationships for sustainable future societies. Many people feel a strong emotional attachment being affectively connected to forests – they care for and take care of forest. Deep connections between humans and trees are expressed frequently, but often they are highly diverse, even conflictual.

Oftentimes, forests are mainly connected to timber production and rationality, but recently, ‘care’ has been identified as an important element in motivating human action regarding nature. Caring is intertwined with legal and psychological forest ownership. Besides valuing forests for their economic benefit, forest owners express both intergenerational respect and care and attach various meanings to forests as beloved places, a space for psychological shelter or an important part of their identity.

The concept of care (Tronto 1993, 2013) has circulated from feminist theory – originally connected to (domestic) care work in capitalism and gendered power roles – into different disciplinary fields. Currently,  glimpses of its potential are making their way into forest-related studies. ‘Care’ encompasses diverse understandings and practices of care taking. It has developed into an “important means of understanding how people relate to the world, and the relationship between people and trees is no exception” (O’Flynn et al. 2021: 228).

Our session contributes to an exploration of the concept’s potential for understanding human-forest relationships. We invite diverse forms of engagement with the concept in relation to forests and their utilization that cover various practices of ‘taking care of the forest’ and/or ‘owning a forest’, their incorporation into culture and their embeddedness in political and institutional structures – be they conceptual or empirically grounded. Central questions for our session are: What does it mean to take care of or to own a forest, in times of climate change and multiple crises? How do people develop and maintain a caring relationship to ‘their’ forest? How is decision-making (in forestry) shaped by relational, social and emotional dimensions? What role do different understandings and practices of care and ownership play in forest conflicts? Do concepts and policies in contexts of bioeconomy, circular economy or biodiversity transform how forests are taken care of? Does a caring relationship towards forests in capitalistic societies remain principally a utopian idea? Or might forests in fact be taking care of humans?

To the programme here.

We congratulate Lilian Pungas on her doctorate and Dennis Eversberg on his appointment to professor!

We had a lot to celebrate at flumen in April!

On 1st of April, 2024, Dennis Eversberg took up the professorship for Sociology with a focus on Environmental Sociology at Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main. – Congratulations, Prof. Dr. Dennis Eversberg!

On 19th of April, 2024, Lilian Pungas successfully defended her doctoral thesis “Dachas for Future? Examples from the East for living and surviving well” – Congratulations, Lilian Pungas!

Jana Holz at IFPM5 in Helsinki

From April 10 to 12, 2024, Jana Holz will be attending the International Forest Policy Meeting 5 (IFPM5) at the University of Helsinki.

She will be involved in two formats. Together with Tuulikki Halla (University of Eastern Finland), she will moderate an interactive session “Coffee Salon Human-Forest-Relationships (HFR) – Potentials and Challenges for Future-oriented Forest Policy and Research” on Wednesday, April 10. The salon will take place as part of the online event series “Scientific Coffee Sessions Human-Forest Relationships”, which flumen has been organizing in cooperation with the Human-Forest Relationship Research Club since 2021. In addition to the participants of the conference, the salon is also aimed at interested people from the University of Helsinki as an interactive format.

In the session “Epistemic patterns and concepts: Facilitating critical analysis on gender in forestry” on April 11, Jana Holz will present together with Dr. Anna Saave (BioMaterialities, Humboldt University Berlin ) and Ronja Schröder (Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg) on the topic “Taking care of the forest as a part of nature – conceptual thoughts and empirical insights”. She will discuss her empirical research on industrial forestry bioeconomy in Finland in comparison to forestry practice in Canada and Germany from the perspective of feminist care theories.

International Forest Policy Meeting
The IFPM5 brings together social science researchers from the fields of forest policy, forest science, bioeconomy and socio-ecological transformation processes under the motto “A political forest”. The conference takes place alternately in different European countries and has an international focus.

New Publication by Martin Fritz et al.: “Diminishing returns of growth? Economic performance, needs satisfaction and ecological impacts of OECD welfare states”, in: Critical Social Policy

Bild: https://pbs.twimg.com/card_img/1740865356082585600/0HdN7SsE?format=jpg&name=small


The environmental crisis, increased inequality and an aging population are likely to increase the demand for welfare services in the OECD countries. Economic growth has long been seen as a solution to these problems. However, this is no longer the case. Very few countries have managed to decouple economic performance from ecological footprints and greenhouse gas emissions. Even where this has been achieved, the rates of emission-decline are too slow to match the Paris climate targets. Consequently, interdisciplinary research is key to probe how welfare systems may cope with these challenges, and how welfare provision and economic growth may be decoupled. By drawing on the basic human needs approach and a unique set of data, we explore the social and ecological performances of OECD countries relative to their economic performances. While high-income countries display diminishing welfare returns as economic performance is not improving the satisfaction of health-related needs, the lower-income countries might yield significant surplus if moving to the level of moderate-income countries. However, the satisfaction of autonomy-related needs is so far strongly coupled to economic performance and thus much harder to achieve in an ecologically sustainable way.

Paulsson, Alexander / Koch, Max / Fritz, Martin (2024): Diminishing returns of growth? Economic performance, needs satisfaction and ecological impacts of OECD welfare states. In: Critical Social Policy, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/02610183231218971

Dennis Eversberg contributes to the conference on how to succeed in transformation at the Federal Chancellery | 12 Dec. 2023

Dieses Bild hat ein leeres Alt-Attribut. Der Dateiname ist 231212_SBPA_PHT026-1024x682.jpg
image: Bundesregierung/Janine Schmitz

Dennis Eversberg contributes to the conference “Societal prerequisites for a succesful transformation” that took place on 12. Dezember 2023 at the Federal Chancellery of Germany. By presenting findings of the flumen research, he spoke about “attitudes and mentalities – how people glance at societal change”.

Numerous researchers were invitied to the conference in order to exchange with colleagues and representatives of the Federal Chancellery as well as of the ministries on main questions of a social-ecologic transformation.

Panel zum Themenblock A: "Einstellungen und Mentalitäten – Wie Menschen auf gesellschaftlichen Wandel blicken" mit Dennis Eversberg, Universitaet Jena, und Berthold Vogel, Soziologisches Forschungsinstitut Goettingen, aufgenommen im Rahmen der Konferenz "Gesellschaftliche Gelingensbedingungen der Transformation", im Bundeskanzleramt. Berlin, 12.12.2023.
image: Bundesregierung/Janine Schmitz

Lilian Pungas speaks about sufficiency, degrowth, and social-ecological transformation in the bioeconomy at the Bioökonomieforum | 5 Dec 2023

image: Lilian Pungas

Lilian Pungas was invited to present her flumen research at the Bioeconomy Forum 2023 on December 5, 2023 in the thematic block “Beyond renunciation and promise? Futures of the bioeconomy”. In her presentation “Sufficiency-oriented examples of the bioeconomy – lessons learned from the periphery?”, she addressed sufficiency, degrowth and socio-ecological transformation in relation to the bioeconomy, referring to sub-topics and actors of current bioeconomy strategies that have so far remained invisible. With her case study, she also illustrated that a sufficiency-oriented bioeconomy is usually linked to the question of the good life. Finally, she also emphasized that (eco-)feminist debates and criticism have not been sufficiently (if at all) taken into account in the current German bioeconomy.

Her presentation can be downloaded from the Bioeconomy Forum website.

German version translated with DeepL.com (free version)

New publication by Martin Fritz & Dennis Eversberg “Mentalities, classes and the four lines of conflict in the social-ecological transformation.” in European Political Science

Fritz, Martin / Eversberg, Dennis (2023): Mentalities, classes and the four lines of conflict in the social-ecological transformation, In: European Political Science. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41304-023-00457-2


In this article, we argue that current societal struggles about whether and how eco-social policy and politics should be implemented to tackle the interlinked challenges of climate change and inequality are an expression of the main societal conflict of our times: the social-ecological transformation conflict. We identify four lines of conflict in the social-ecological transformation and explore how they are related to classes and mentalities. In the theoretical part, we conceptualize classes in social space and mentalities through a Bourdieusian relational approach. We also discuss the location of the four lines of conflict in social space. In the empirical part, we analyze survey data from Germany. Firstly, we find eight mentalities among respondents reflecting their views on various eco-social topics. Secondly, we construct the social space with socio-economic variables for the economic and cultural capital of the respondents. Thirdly, we plot the mentalities in the social space. The results show that the cultural middle class is in favor of eco-social policy, while the upper class and the economic middle class prefer green growth and ecological modernization. The lower-class fractions are skeptical of any transformation because they distrust institutions and cannot bear the transformation costs.

New book chapter: Eversberg, Dennis / Holz, Jana / Schmelzer, Matthias (2023): Bioeconomy: a solution to the challenges of a post-fossil future?

Dennis Eversberg, Jana Holz, and Matthias Schmelzer contributed a chapter to the “Handbook on Alternative Global Development” edited by Franklin Obeng-Odoom. Challenging the dominant and mainstream views in global development, this pioneering Handbook questions the entirety of the development process in order to outline holistic political economies of development, discontents, and alternatives

Abstract of the chapter “Bioeconomy: a solution to the challenges of a post-fossil future?”

“Bioeconomy” is one of the buzzwords that come up time and again in debates on the future of modern societies in the face of climate disaster. The core vision of its proponents is that decarbonization of the economy can be achieved by replacing the linear throughput of fossil resources with ’circular’ flows of biological and renewable resources. The article argues that bioeconomy strategies in their dominant form, as promoted by governments, industry, and international organization, can best be characterized as a problematic or false solution that cannot ultimately address real problems of societal fossil-fuel dependency and its social-ecological repercussions. To substantiate this, the article discusses the origins and history of the bioeconomy debate and presents key insights of various strands of social scientific research on the bioeconomy and their respective contributions to a critical understanding of its implications and impacts.

Eversberg, Dennis / Holz, Jana / Schmelzer, Matthias (2023): Bioeconomy: a solution to the challenges of a post-fossil future? In: Obeng-Odoom, Franklin (Ed.), Handbook on Alternative Global Development, 334-351. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781839109959.

Publication: Tackling inequality and providing sustainable welfare through eco-social policies – Editorial by Martin Fritz & Jayeon Lee


We are increasingly witnessing the social and ecological crises of our time becoming entangled and amplifying each other. The current policy responses from national states and international governance bodies remain within the dominant framework of economic growth-centred strategies. In this editorial, we argue that a new paradigm of sustainable welfare is needed, which includes eco-social policies addressing social and ecological sustainability concerns in integrated ways. We first demonstrate how social and ecological problems are interconnected and why green growth approaches fail to tackle them. As an alternative, and as a pointer to a social security system that can help people navigate the dire straits of increasing eco-social risks, we present the foundations and principles of sustainable welfare, and discuss how this, according to Kuhn, can be understood as a new social policy paradigm. In the second part of this editorial, we introduce the papers brought together in this special issue. The cutting-edge research of the contributing authors includes theoretical and conceptual advances, empirical case studies from different European countries, and transnational studies. Each paper discusses the implications of its findings for European social security systems.

Martin Fritz / Jayeon Lee (2023): Introduction to the special issue: Tackling inequality and providing sustainable welfare through eco-social policies. European Journal of Social Security, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/13882627231213796