Research Design and the Politics of Abstraction: Unpacking the Environmentality of Scientific Practice in Socioecological Assessments

Todd A. Crane*, Maartje Pronk, Roan Lakerveld, Viola Weiler, Harro Maat, Oliver Springate-Baginski, Henk Udo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Scientific assessments of socio-ecological systems are becoming mainstays in guiding policymaking and other interventions in response to global environmental change. The environmentality literature emphasizes the institutional architecture of emergent science-policy regimes and how scientific research is used in political settings, creating new modes of governance and subjectivities. However, there has been relatively little attention to domain-level socio-ecological assessments as socially produced technologies where specific scientific choices are mechanisms connecting governance architecture and popular subjectivities. Combining empirical case study and literature review, assessment technologies are analyzed in three domains: vulnerability assessment, ecosystem services assessment, life-cycle assessment. Using conceptualization, operationalization, and institutionalization as analytical lenses, the cases illustrate ways that scientific choices simplify complex socio-ecological relationships with implications for both governance practices and subjectivities. Furthermore, findings explore the possibility for assessments to be more inclusive of diverse social values and practices, enabling more empowering subjectivities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-675
JournalHuman Ecology
Volume44
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Assessment
  • Ecosystem services
  • Environmentality
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Research methods
  • Science studies
  • Socio-ecological systems
  • Vulnerability

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