Prelude to practice: introducing a practice based approach to forest and nature governance

Bas Arts, Jelle Behagel, Severine van Bommel, Jessica de Koning, Esther Turnhout, 2013, In: Arts, B., Behagel, J., Bommel, S. van, Koning, J. de, Turnhout, E. Forest and nature governance: a practice based approach. Dordrecht: Springer.

‘Forest and nature governance’ is a field that has recently emerged from forestry sciences. It analyses the governance of a diverse set of issues, including deforestation, biodiversity loss and illegal logging, producing insights useful for science and policy. Its main theoretical base consists of two mainstream social theories: rational choice and neo-institutionalism. However, since these models rest upon problematic conceptualisations of ‘the social’, this chapter proposes a practice based approach, which offers a comprehensive understanding of the social dynamics related to trees, forests and biodiversity. It goes beyond some of the old dualisms in social theory, such as subject and object, and agency and structure. Three sensitising concepts—situated agency, logic of practice and performativity—will be introduced. In addition, the chapter identifies a number of methodological guidelines for the practice based approach, based on a short review of the practice literature. These concepts and guidelines not only define the practice based approach, but also bind together the individual chapters. Finally, this chapter introduces the book’s contents.