Placing natural resource decisions in social and historical contexts: Sociological inquiries into agency communications, management rationalities, and community change
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractA sociological understanding of natural resource management decisions traces the links between historical change (How does this historical period differ from other periods?), society (What social relations exist at this time and how do they persist or change?), and individuals (What types of conduct and discourse prevail in this society and in this period?). The papers submitted for this dissertation examine the connections between identity, social milieu, and historical change relative to three resource management issues: (1) The promotion of nature play areas as a novel landscape form. Analysis of agency materials suggests that these spaces are advertised as bucolic settings for children's healthy development. Online and on-site communications about nature play guide both children's and adults' conduct according to specific ideas about nature, parenting, and education. (2) The sway of the instrumental rationality inherent in the ecosystem services approach to planning and management. Traditional sociological theory suggests that, for all of its promise to internalize environmental externalities in decision-making, the ecosystem services approach reduces society's capacity for engaging critically with the forces that shape our world. The recent "nonhuman turn" in social theory offers alternatives to the utilitarian ethic and quiescent character of ecosystem services. (3) The impact of changing demographics in amenity-rich towns on community wellbeing. This resident survey of four Vermont towns experiencing different rates of growth examines the utility of categories such as permanent and seasonal residents, and newcomers and longterm residents, in understanding attitudes toward community development and preservation of natural and cultural resources.