Understanding People's Ideas on Natural Resource Management: Research on Social Representations of Nature
AuthorBuijs, A.; Hovardas, T.; Figari, H.; Castro, P.; Devine-Wright, P.; Fischer, A.; Mouro, C.; Selge, S.
Ongoing fragmentation between social groups on the appropriate targets and relevant actors for nature conservation signals the need for further advancements in theorizing about the human-nature interaction. Through a focus on the complexity of social thought and confrontations between social groups, the theory of social representations may provide a useful addition to conventional approaches. However, environmental issues have so far not been among the primary topics studied by social representation scholars. This article sets out to fill this gap. After an introduction to the theory, we report on three case studies that illustrate the use of this theory in the context of natural resource management. These studies show how groups negotiate meanings, intentions, and action related to complex issues such as wolf management, invasive species, and conflicts over protected forests, landscapes, and national parks. We discuss strengths and weaknesses of the approach and suggest future challenges and opportunities.