Scaffolding substantive cooperation through transversal engagement in intersecting political-economic-environmental-scientific processes

Part of an abstract or synthesis prepared during the development of a research proposal on scaffolding, cooperation, and crises.

No longer possible to simply continue along previous lines: Scaffolding substantive cooperation through transversal engagement in intersecting political-economic-environmental-scientific processes

Let us note three aspects of the degradation of the resources and institutions (including forms of cooperation) on which livelihoods depend:

  • It is already happening in actual localities (and will be exacerbated under Climate Change);
  • it is being exacerbated by the imposition of political and economic adjustments (that is, imposed on people by governments constrained as much by finance capital as by the people who elected them);
  • it is, however, subject to countervailing initiatives.

These three aspects develop in relation to one another and can be thought of as intersecting political-economic, environmental, and scientific processes (with science standing in for knowledge-making across a range of fields).  In such intersecting processes, the resources—material, discursive, and informatic—available in any given locality are shaped by decisions made at a distance—including the decisions of researchers about what to inquire into and how to use the results.  Such translocal decisions are often made on the basis of abstractions of the economic and social dynamics that actual localities experience (separately and as an interacting social whole).  It is possible to continue along previous lines, in the sense that people, including researchers, can be passive or reactive in face of the degradation just outlined.  However, continuing along previous lines cannot be a simple orientation given the crises, current and expected, arising from and contributing to these developments and the depth, interconnectedness, and potential violence of these crises.

Let us adopt, instead, a proactive orientation, to work against the degradation of resources and institutions through engagements that are transversal in the following senses:

a) linking localities to wider decision-making and abstractions of socio-economic dynamics;

b) promoting cooperation i) across difference, including difference among fields of knowledge-making, and ii) between perspectives shaped by local solidarities and by moving across or spanning localities; and

c) contributing to theory about i) economic and ethical traditions about cooperation; and ii) intersecting political-economic-environmental-scientific processes.

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