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Darine Jane R.

BA (Political Science – Psychology) IV
April 20, 2016

Comparing Conservation and Control and Environmental Conflict and Exclusion Theses:
A Reaction Paper
Conservation and control thesis and environmental conflict and exclusion thesis are two of

the five dominant narratives in political ecology. The main argument of conservation and control

thesis is that local systems of livelihood, production, and socio-political organization have been

disabled by officials and global interests seeking to preserve the environment. The environmental

conflict and exclusion thesis on the other hand looks for the increasing scarcities through resource

enclosure by state authorities, private firms or social elites accelerate conflict between groups

(Robbins, 2012). The former explains the conservation outcomes, especially failures, and suggests

that efforts at environmental conservation are shown to have pernicious effects, and sometimes

fail as a result, while the latter explains the access to the environment and conflicts over exclusion

from it, especially natural resources, and says that environmental conflicts are shown to be part of

larger gendered, classed, and raced struggles and vice versa.

The following arguments affirm that the later-emerged environmental conflict and

exclusion addresses the problems and inconveniences of the preceding thesis, the conservation and

control thesis. This implies that the rule of dialectics prevail in political ecology theses and studies.

First, on the human-nonhuman interaction, the conservation and control thesis neglects the

role of non-human actors such as animals, soil, etc. in the environment, which is addressed by the

environmental conflict and exclusion thesis which says that what connect human and environment

are not only technologies of production and levels of consumption but extend to distribution,

access rights, and the division of labor.

Second, the conservation and control thesis overlooks the complex differences of actors

who can have the roles in environment management therefore resulting to unaddressed issue of

inequality and failure. To address this issue, the environmental conflict and exclusion thesis

suggests that the equity and sustainability of environmental management depends on the specific

arrangements of differing groups in an ecological network. The increasing inequality, production

loses, and resource conflicts are the product of privatization of rights. Also, it says that to avoid

failure, they must acknowledge the political character of ecological management, with its equity

and power implications. These differing outlooks on ecological actors, whether they are given

importance including their diversity and roles or taken for granted, bring a difference on pointing

out one of the major societal predicament which is inequality.

Third, conservation and control thesis says that ecological change should match the

ecosystem functions and flows of diverse natural elements. It claims that states work for a simple,

neat and legible policies in their pursuit for conservation, but these actually poorly fit the dynamics

of the local social and natural world and thus leads to bigger problem. This conditional statement

was countered by environmental conflict and exclusion thesis acknowledging that ecological

change burdens some while benefitting others. This account is concerned with the issue of who

controls what, who is allowed to decide about what, and who is expected to do what tasks.

Therefore, political ecology initiatives specifically the theses and studies emerge as a

response to the previously materialized theses. The latter ones address the formers’ lacking through

developing ideas and/or suggestions, hence, providing a better input on the field. They address

unaddressed issues, contradict to the ideas, provide negative implications and offer ways on how

to get away with it. Nevertheless, it does not necessarily follow that the latter ones are better that

the earlier studies because each of them has its own important concerns.

Reference: Robbins, P., 2012. Political Ecology. 2nd ed. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.