In her article published on July 12, 2022, our colleague Lilian Pungas examines the nature relations of allotment gardeners in East Estonian dachas.
This article contributes to the understanding of the complexity of human-nature relationships. Through hermeneutic analysis of more than 60 semi-structured in-depth interviews (2019-2021), I identify five prevalent human-nature relationship models within the Food Self-Provisioning (FSP) practice in Eastern Estonia (‘master‘, ‘user‘ and ‘steward of nature‘ as well as ‘partner with’ and ‘participant in nature‘). As an ambiguous model, the ‘stewardship of nature’ merits my particular attention when exploring how gardeners perceive, relate to and act upon nature in general and their own gardening practice in particular. Using a relational sociological approach, I locate the observed relationship models within the so-called ‘space of social relationships with nature’ (see Eversberg et al. 2022 in this Special Issue) which allows me to capture the various ways in which humans mentally and practically relate to nature. The analysis reveals seemingly contrary yet concurrent manifestations of human-nature relationships that can only be explained by exploring their embeddedness in both social power relations and societal nature relations that constitute the individually observed human-nature relationships. Furthermore, I demonstrate how ‘immediate’ engagement with nature results in rather caring and partner-like relationships whereas ‘abstract’ and alienated experiences often feature instrumental logic with implicit or explicit hierarchy.
Lilian Pungas (2022): Who stewards whom? A paradox spectrum of human–nature relationships of Estonian dacha gardeners, Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, DOI: 10.1080/13511610.2022.2095990