The Construction of Common Understanding and Its Interplay with Lifeworld – Objects, Taken-for-Grantedness, and the Human Space of Action

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Joe ALIZZI, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
The handling of problems, risks and conflicts usually occurs from individual and group ‘bases’, namely, lived structures and dynamics that locate people, and through which humans manifest bonds with nature and culture. But how are these ‘bases’ visualized and constructed – what ‘adorns’ their conceptual walls? And how do numerous individualized worldviews interact and construct a common understanding regarding social and environmental relations? This paper seeks to analyse certain taken-for-granted elements of individual and group ‘lifeworld’ (Seamon) – symbols that have become ‘invisible’ but play a strong role in the decision-making process due to the meanings they convey. While all humans fundamentally seek individual and collective security, representations of security vary and affect imaginaries differently, and approaches to achieving security differ according to socio-cultural positionings and worldviews. This shapes the type of action on environmental issues a society takes, with the prevailing discourse usually controlling the emergent approaches. This paper argues that the construction of what is valued is strongly influenced by representations emanating from a dominant but taken-for-granted ‘attitude’ toward what is commonly termed ‘nature’, as is the overall process of relation between humans and other human and nonhuman entities. This taken-for-granted ‘attitude’ promotes individual values and autonomy as the means to achieve security, making the countervailing attitude of interdependency less visible, and thus inhibited from shaping action. By clearly visualizing what ‘adorns’ and what is used to construct value in the individual and communal ‘bases’ of action, choices are more easily made regarding why to adopt an alternate way of relating, and how to incorporate it into future action.