9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN12 Environment and Society

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Science, Environment and the Public Building I, Auditório J.J. Laginha

Scientific information and collective action in socioecological conflicts

This paper presents the first outcomes of the research project Scientific-technical information, public participation and effects of sustainability in socioecological conflicts (CSO2008-00291/SOCI), included at the Spanish National R+D Programme. The project aims to produce new knowledge about social movements or collective actions that are generated from social conflicts built around environmental problems or significantly related to them. More specifically, its purpose is to clarify, through the study of a significant number of cases, different issues that the research conducted so far has raised in this regard. First, the extent to which the dissemination of scientific information is a causal factor in that kind of social conflicts and, more generally, the role played by experts' descriptions of the problems in their origin and development. Secondly, if the different discourses by the experts, frequently connected to different positions in the conflict (developers, governments, citizen groups...), are associated with different visions and developments, regarding both the content of knowledge and the social role of science. In addition, the project will try to detect changes produced through the interaction between experts and activists in the pattern of social movements (effects of collective learning, building capacity for proposal, etc.) as well as in the social role of science (expanded knowledge communities, legitimacy of information sources based on traditional or experiential knowledge, and so on.). Finally, we will try to clarify the effects of restructuring and social change resulting from the development of this type of conflict in three areas: the extent to which citizen intervention involves changes toward greater openness and reflexivity in decision-making procedures, the links between collective actions and alternative visions of social organization, and the impacts in terms of environmental sustainability in a context of limits to growth.