What is at stake: the ontological dimension of environmental conflicts

Flemmer, Riccarda / Verena Gresz / Jonas Hein
External Publications (2024)

in: Society and Natural Resources, 37 (5), 608-622

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2024.2329888

According to the “ontological turn,” ontology is considered not to be a given order of things. Ontologies exist, rather, in the plural, mutually shaping and being shaped by social practices. This special issue aims to understand nature-society relations and their asymmetric embeddedness in matrices of power. The contributions integrate ontological aspects explicitly into the analysis of environmental conflicts and focus on the following key questions: What is at stake, who is struggling, and who gets to decide what is at stake? This introduction provides an overview of the state of the art regarding the ontological turn in Political Ecology, Anthropology, and Human Geography as well as its relevance for understanding environmental conflicts. Moreover, we identify three research themes across the different contributions: 1. stories of ontological conflicts and resistance; 2. practical challenges arising from ontological difference in partnerships; and 3. methodological approaches to knowledge production under conditions of ontological difference.

About the author

Hein, Jonas



Further experts

Aleksandrova, Mariya

Climate risk governance 

Banerjee, Aparajita

Environmental and Resource Sociology, Public Policy 

Dombrowsky, Ines


Eberz, Isabelle

Cultural Science 

Houdret, Annabelle

Political Scientist 

Lehmann, Ina

Political Science 

Schoderer, Mirja

Environmental Research 

Schüpf, Dennis