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The significance of meaning: Why IPBES needs the social sciences and humanities
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Methods of empirical social research and statistics, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg, Germany.
Environmental Policy, Department of Social Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5395-7656
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. (Miljösociologiska sektionen)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6735-0011
Department of Philosophy, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany.
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2018 (English)In: Innovation. The European Journal of Social Sciences, ISSN 1351-1610, E-ISSN 1469-8412Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The term “biodiversity” is often used to describe phenomena of nature, which can be studied without a reference to the socially constructed, evaluative, or indeed normative contexts. In our paper, we challenge this conception by focusing particularly on methodological aspects of biodiversity research. We thereby engage with the idea of interdisciplinary biodiversity research as a scientific approach directed at the recognition and management of contemporary society in its ecological embedding. By doing this, we explore how research on and assessments of biodiversity can be enhanced if meaning, aspiration, desires, and related aspects of agency are methodically taken into account. In six sections, we substantiate our claim that the discourse on biodiversity (including the IPBES (Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) debate) is incomplete without contributions from the social sciences and humanities. In the introduction, a brief overview of biodiversity’s conceptual history is provided showing that “biodiversity” is a lexical invention intended to create a strong political momentum. However, that does not impede its usability as a research concept. Section 2 examines the origins of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) by way of sociological discourse analysis. Subsequently, it proposes a matrix as a means to structure the ambiguities and tensions inherent in the CBD. The matrix reemphasizes our main thesis regarding the need to bring social and ethical expertise to the biodiversity discourse. In Section 3, we offer a brief sketch of the different methods of the natural and social sciences as well as ethics. This lays the groundwork for our Section 4, which explains and illustrates what social sciences and ethics can contribute to biodiversity research. Section 5 turns from research to politics and argues that biodiversity governance necessitates deliberative discourses in which participation of lay people plays an important role. Section 6 provides our conclusions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2018.
Keyword [en]
biodiversity; social sciences; ethics; methodology; science–policy interface; foundations of biodiversity research; IPBES
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology) Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Sociology; Enviromental Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-58986DOI: 10.1080/13511610.2017.1348933Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85026229535OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-58986DiVA: diva2:1128596
Available from: 2017-07-26 Created: 2017-07-26 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved

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