Normative Verortungen und Vorgehen im Forschungsprozess: Das Nachhaltigkeitsverständnis im Forschungsprojekt PoNa

Research output: Working paperWorking papers


This paper is a documentation of the first steps taken by the junior research group “PoNa –
Shaping nature. Rural development and agricultural biotechnology between criticism and
Our central research question is how polity, policy and politics shape nature as well as the
diverse and interactive relationships between nature and society. With this question in mind,
we have developed an understanding of sustainability that is shared by all members of our
project. This common conception of sustainability is to serve as a “bridging concept” and has
three different functions. Firstly, it reveals our target knowledge and identifies the contents
and normative positions of our project. Secondly, it provides us with categories and subcategories
for our analytical framework, serving both a methodical and analytic function.
Thirdly, the bridging concept helps us in the interdisciplinary research process to integrate
terms, concepts and theories.
Our search for approaches, concepts and theories of sustainability was informed by a critical,
emancipatory perspective. The core aspects of this perspective are the critique of domination,
a search for intra- and intergenerational justice, the deconstruction of dichotomies and
separations that cause socio-economic crises, a search for new kinds of interconnectedness
between these dichotomies and separations as well as the questioning of alleged social
This paper gives an overview of the different approaches, concepts and theories that were
discussed. It traces our project‟s evolving understanding of sustainability, which was created
as a result of discussions based on these approaches, concepts and theories. Our view of
sustainability comprises these nine categories: the question of how polity, policy and politics,
and shape nature requires (from our critical perspective) not only a consideration of the
understanding of nature (1) and polity, policy and politics (2), but also of economics (3),
power, and domination (4), gender relations (5), strategies of efficiency, sufficiency and
consistency (6), time (7), knowledge (8) and reflexivity (9).
Sub-categories describe and elaborate these nine main categories. They are further
differentiated by questions meant to structure both guiding knowledge and interpretation. In
this way we hope to be able to understand and evaluate against the background of our
understanding of sustainability how polity, policy and politics shape nature. The next stage of
our research will deal with the descriptive and interpretative analysis of documents in the field
of rural development and agricultural biotechnology. Thus, we should be able to develop
recommendations on procedures, structures and contents that will contribute to transformation
processes towards sustainability.
Original languageGerman
Place of PublicationLüneburg
PublisherLeuphana Universität Lüneburg
Number of pages48
Publication statusPublished - 2010