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Weaving protective stories:  connective practices to articulate holistic values in Stockholm National Urban Park
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Responsible organisation
2009 (English)In: Environment and planning A, ISSN 0308-518X, E-ISSN 1472-3409, Vol. 41, no 6, 1460-1479 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

With rapid worldwide urbanization it is urgent that we understand processes leading to the protection of urban green areas and ecosystems. Although natural reserves are often seen as preserving 'higher valued' rather than 'lower valued' nature, it is more adequate to describe them as outcomes of selective social articulation processes. This is illustrated in the Stockholm National Urban Park. Despite strong exploitation pressure, a diverse urban movement of civil society organizations has managed to provide narratives able to explain and legitimize the need for protection-a 'protective story'. On the basis of qualitative data and building on theories of value articulation, social movements, and actor-networks, we show how activists, by interlacing artefacts and discourses from cultural history and conservation biology, managed to simultaneously link spatially separated green areas previously seen as disconnected, while also articulating the interrelatedness between the cultural and the natural history of the area. This connective practice constructed holistic values articulating a unified park, which heavily influenced the official framing of the park's values and which now help to explain the success of the movement. In contrast to historically top-down-led designation of natural reserves, we argue that the involvement of civil society in protecting nature (and culture) is on the rise. This nonetheless begs the question of who can participate in these value-creating processes, and we also strive to uncover constraining and facilitating factors for popular participation. Four such factors are suggested: (i) the number and type of artefacts linked to an area; (ii) the capabilities and numbers of activists involved; (iii) the access to social arenas; and (iv) the social network position of actors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 41, no 6, 1460-1479 p.
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-25397DOI: 10.1068/a40349ISI: 000267622000014OAI: diva2:199651
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-8137Available from: 2008-09-04 Created: 2008-09-03 Last updated: 2010-09-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. In Rhizomia: Actors, Networks and Resilience in Urban Landscapes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>In Rhizomia: Actors, Networks and Resilience in Urban Landscapes
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

With accelerating urbanization it is crucial to understand how urban ecosystems play a part in generating ecosystem services for urban dwellers, such as clean water, spaces for recreation, stress relief and improved air quality. An equally important question relate to who gets to enjoy these benefits, i.e. the distribution of ecosystem services, and how issues of power and equity influence the management of ecosystems. Through case studies from the urban landscape of Stockholm, this doctoral thesis engages with these perspectives through combining ecological theory with social theory, including social network analysis, actor-network theory and social movement theory. Strategies for how to improve urban ecosystem management are presented along with frameworks for how to analyze issues of power and equity in relation to natural resource management.

Paper I shows that ecosystem management can be studied through analyzing the structure of social networks, i.e. the patterns of relations between agencies, stake-holders and user groups. Paper II and Paper III analyze, based on a network survey of 62 civil society organizations and in-depth interviews, a transformational process of how an urban local movement managed to protect a large urban green area from exploitation (The Stockholm National Urban Park). Paper IV discusses, based on several case studies from Stockholm, a conducive network structure for linking managers and user groups (e.g. allotment gardens, cemetery managers, and urban planners) across spatial ecological scales so as to improve urban green area management. Paper V presents a framework to analyze the social-ecological dynamics behind the generation and distribution of ecosystem services in urban landscapes.

The thesis points towards the notion of "a social production of ecosystem services" and argues for deeper engagement with urban political ecology and critical geography to inform governance and collective action in relation to urban ecosystems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Systemekologiska institutionen, 2008. 198 p.
urban ecosystem services, green space, social network analysis, social movements, actor-networks, transformation, ecosystem management, scale mismatch, co-management, governance, broker, conservation, Stockholm
National Category
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-8137 (URN)978-91-7155-725-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-09-26, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 C, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2008-09-04 Created: 2008-09-03Bibliographically approved

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Ernstson, Henrik
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