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Social construction of arctic wilderness: place meanings, value pluralism, and globalizationAuthor(s): Daniel R. Williams
Source: In: Watson, Alan E.; Alessa, Lilian; Sproull, Janet, comps. Wilderness in the Circumpolar North: searching for compatibility in ecological, traditional, and ecotourism values; 2001 May 15-16; Anchorage, AK. Proceedings RMRS-P-26. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 120-132.
Publication Series: Proceedings (P)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (58.93 KB)
DescriptionThis paper offers a social constructionist approach to examining the nature and dynamics of arctic wilderness meanings and values. Viewing wilderness as a socially constructed place responds to growing critiques of modern "Enlightenment" views of nature and society in three ways examined here. First, wilderness landscapes are seen as geographically organized and socially constructed into places that carry a plurality of meanings. A spatially rich understanding of landscape meanings goes beyond instrumental or utilitarian meanings of nature to legitimize a broader and more intangible array of landscape meanings. Second, resource management practice, historically anchored in resource utilitarianism, is poorly equipped to address and adjudicate among competing meanings and values of places because it employs a monistic (economic) theory of valuation. A post-Enlightenment perspective for valuing environmental goods conceptualizes valuation as a social-spatial and communicative process for the production and distribution of goods. Such a process does not simply reflect existing individual values, but potentially creates and improves public values. Third, the paper builds on geographic and social theory to discuss the ways in which conflicts over meaning and value of wilderness are significant consequences of globalization. Globalization can be understood, in part, as a process in which market norms are increasingly used to regulate more and more social interactions that previously were produced and distributed by nonmarket means. This paper concludes by arguing that understanding the ways in which wilderness meanings and values are socially constructed and contested is necessary for effective protection and management of wilderness.
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CitationWilliams, Daniel R. 2002. Social construction of arctic wilderness: place meanings, value pluralism, and globalization. In: Watson, Alan E.; Alessa, Lilian; Sproull, Janet, comps. Wilderness in the Circumpolar North: searching for compatibility in ecological, traditional, and ecotourism values; 2001 May 1516; Anchorage, AK. Proceedings RMRS-P-26. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 120-132.
Keywordsarctic, meanings, values, wilderness, culture, ecotourism, globalization, environmental protection
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