The Ethics of Care and the New Habitus: Rethinking Community in the Age of Shale Gas Explorations

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Aiste BARTKIENE , Social Sciences and Humanities, Lithuanian Univ Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania
The lack of care for the environment has often been deemed to be one of the most important contributing factors leading to the overuse of natural resources. While feminist philosophers and bioethicists have developed analytical tools explicating the ethics of care, scholarly debates in environmental sociology have generally overlooked this body of literature. The purpose of this paper is to bring these two bodies of literature in conversation with each other, particularly by linking the ethics of care as articulated by N. Noddings, M. Slote, and J. Tronto, and the notion of social practice and habitus developed by Pierre Bourdieu. Staring with Boudieu's theories of habitus and social practice that have been incorporated in the analyses of community-based natural resource management we expose tensions between care as a mode of living that is oriented towards sustaining and preserving the environment and the limiting effects of routines, social relations, and economic logic on such care. We argue that care about the environment as a social practice is dependent not only on social millieu and culturally embedded class identities  but also on normative attitudes of a care-giver. As a case study, we focus on the mobilization of the Zygaiciai community in Western Lithuania against the efforts of the international energy giant Chevron, to explore and extract shale gas in the area. Zygaiciai community has become the symbol of anti-shale gas development in Lithuania and East Europe more broadly, while also spearheading a public debate about the responsibility of the national and supranational states vis a vis corporate interests, national security debates, and  energy independence. Through the analysis of public discourse, we will highlight the emerging new articulations of care and responsibility and relate it with ethical theory which reveals importance of relationships  for developing a caring attitude towards  environment.