Practices, Dilemmas and Reflections Among Environmental Representatives

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:27
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Magnus BOSTROM, Örebro University, Sweden
Ylva UGGLA, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Sweden
In examining environment and society relations, representation will always be at the core. The environment or “nature” cannot plead its own case but must be represented. Numerous actors claim to speak on behalf of nature while at the same time they may represent a country or region, an organization, a scientific or expert community, certain vulnerable groups, animals, and/or future generations. As a consequence, it is important to focus attention on the role of environmental representatives, as well as on their practices and reflections. Today, we know a great deal about formal procedures and principles of representation, but little about what it means to be a representative, particularly in a context of globalization and in transnational environmental politics and governance. The aim of this paper is to illuminate how environmental representatives in various organizational and professional contexts understand their own role as representatives. Who or what do the representatives claim to represent? How do they justify their positions? What kind of dilemmas, if any, do they experience? How are these potential dilemmas handled? The study is based on 15 qualitative interviews with representatives from five organizational/professional contexts: state, civil society, business associations, expert society, and journalists in the environmental field. The analysis reveals the importance of considering the varying social and organizational context that the representatives face including the everyday practices they are embedded in. The empirical material shows a number of dilemmas, which relate to multiple organizational/professional belongings and accountabilities. However, the magnitude and character of these dilemmas differ significantly among the focused categories. Based on these results, the paper can feedback to practice in a way that may enhance capacity for self-reflection among environmental representatives.