Mentalities in the bioeconomy as a social-ecological transformation: Historical and sociological perspectives
In our presentation we show how a comprehensive understanding of the transformations envisioned and contested in the bioeconomy debate can be achieved by broadening the view beyond policy debates and stakeholder positions. We focus on the views and social-ecological mentalities that are present within the general population towards different aspects of the transition from a fossil economy towards a post-fossil bioeconomy. While existing mentalities are historically shaped by the extensive use of fossil resources, exerting dominance over nature and modes of living relying on the ever-increasing use of existing fossil stocks of resources and energies, the intensifying climate crisis has made many people more and more aware that transforming society is necessary. Yet there are different ideas how this transformation should take place and some even doubt that a transformation is desirable at all – the stances towards bio-economic change in the general population are diverse and go beyond the usual divide between green growth and postgrowth/sufficiency that dominates the political debate. Starting from a historical discussion of the making of existing fossil mentalities, we use data from our representative multi-mode survey conducted in Germany 2021/22 that gathered information about respondent’s social and ecological attitudes, preferences and values, their stances towards the bioeconomy as well as social status and position to explore social conflicts and coalitions for and against the bioeconomy as a social-ecological transformation. Applying factor and cluster analysis we identify social-ecological mentalities in Germany and locate them in a ‘bioeconomic option space’ (Hausknost et al 2017) constructed from the views of the general population instead from the concepts discussed among stakeholders and experts. The results show that issues around the bioeconomy as a social-ecological transformation are more contested among the population than in policy debates. As this entails significant potential for social conflicts, it will be important to establish ecologically sustainable and socially just transformation pathways in democratic and participatory ways.
Greening Bourdieu. How eco-social mentalities help to understand social and political conflicts over climate change.
An important aspect in understanding the political and social configurations of the current societal conflicts over climate change are the mentalities that exist among the general population. For example, the growth paradigm is deeply engrained in the ways many people think about how to organize our economy and society. Human-nature-relations are often shaped by domination and control. There are people who are uninterested in social and ecological issues, and others are mainly concerned about themselves and their private issues. While such dispositions make it hard to find political solutions for climate change that are supported by a majority, there is also ecological and caring thinking, mentalities that emerge from recognizing the dependence of society from nature and the relatedness of all beings. These could provide a fertile ground for co-creating the highly demanded social-ecological transformation. All such different mentalities feed into social conflicts, tensions, cleavages and commonalities between classes and into political struggles as they are strongly shaped by social experiences and social positions. This paper seeks to provide an holistic understanding of societal conflicts over climate change and contribute to the conference theoretically and empirically. Combining Bourdieu’s relational sociology with the theory of society-nature relations, we identify eco-social mentalities and investigate how they are connected to social inequalities and socio-cultural differences. We use data from a representative multi-mode survey conducted in Germany 2021/22 that gathered information about respondent’s social and ecological attitudes, preferences and values, their social status and position. Applying dimension reduction methods such as factor-, correspondence- and cluster analysis the eco-social mentalities that currently exist in Germany are discovered and plotted in the space of social positions. The result is a complex picture of the eco-social landscape of Germany where the links between mentalities, social inequalities and social differences appear. The picture also reveals four dimensions of political and social conflict over the questions whether and how a social-ecological transformation should take place in Germany.
On Thursday, 15 December 2022, from 10-12 a.m., the lecture of our colleague Lilian Pungas on “Sozial-ökologische Mentalitäten in der Semisubsistenzlandwirtschaft in Estland” will take place in the context of flumen’s research colloquium. Lilian’s lecture will be held in presence in flumen’s offices on the 15th floor of JenTower. (The lecture will be held in German)
On Thursday, 08 December 2022, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Knut Tullius’ lecture on the topic “Mentalitäten im Umbruch. Transformationserfahrungen im Pflegesektor in Ostthüringen” will take place as part of the flumen colloquium. Where? Senatssaal, 1. floor, UHG, Fürstengraben 1. (The lecture will be held in German)
Lilian Pungas participates at the international workshop “Crisis, climate and challenges & opportunities of urban agriculture” on 19 October 2022 which she helps to organise with her second supervisor Dr. Oane Visser at the ISS in the Hague, as part of her pursued Double PhD Degree. She will present her most recent research findings and analysis on Food Democracy in the case of Eastern Estonian dachas. Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, exacerbating inflation levels in Estonia and political tensions between the ethnic Estonians and Russians, democratic deliberation processes within local food systems are more important than ever. In this context of multiple crises, Lilian explores ‘what makes a good food citizen’ in a post-socialist urban periphery.