Rethinking Economic Practices and Values As Assemblages of More-Than-Human Relations

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The relational turn in the academic literature on environmental values explores ontologies that rethink the dualistic, hierarchical separations of humans from nature. In particular, the consideration of a plurality of values and ways in which humans connect to nature has brought new insights on the dynamic interconnections between people, place and environmental processes, all highly relevant for the world's sustainability challenges. However, many conceptualizations of economic practices and values are still predominantly dualistic and anthropocentric. To overcome this human-nature divide we propose a conceptual integration of relational values with assemblages of more-than-human relations, illustrated with examples from the literature and ongoing empirical research. These concepts offer a way of representing meaningful and dynamic interrelationships, including humans, physical elements, materials (e.g. technologies, tools), immaterial entities (e.g. sounds, lights, colors), and other non-human beings. We argue that such conceptual integration provides a useful framework to rethink diverse economies as the processes through which humans and non-humans co-constitute their interrelated livelihoods. With this, we extend the relational turn to research on economic human-nature connections, following the call of many scholars in the field of ecological economics to unveil non-utilitarian values and consider multiple economic agencies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107866
JournalEcological Economics
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
During the preparation of this paper, Stefan Ortiz-Przychodzka, Camila Benavides-Frías, Isabel Díaz-Reviriego and Jan Hanspach were funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, Grant Number 01UU1903 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


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