Advertisement

Sustainability Science

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 1363–1379 | Cite as

Social values, needs, and sustainable water–energy–food resource utilisation practices: a rural Swazi case study

  • Michelle R. BrearEmail author
  • Bonginkosi M. Mbonane
Special Feature: Original Article Theoretical traditions in social values for sustainability
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Feature: Theoretical traditions in social values for sustainability

Abstract

Social values structure sustainability practices, including needs-fulfilment practices utilising water–energy–food nexus resources. However, robust theories outlining the interrelations of values, needs and needs-fulfilment practices are lacking. Our aim is to conceptualise and model these interrelations from a sociological perspective that accounts for structure and agency. We do this through a participatory ethnography of a community-based, child-focused food security intervention in rural Eswatini, which defined sustainability in terms of local water–energy–food self-sufficiency. We collected ethnographic data and analysed it informed by a sociological theory of practice, a capabilities-based definition of needs, and a conceptualisation of values as lived and relational. Daily needs-fulfilment practices (lived values) like head-loading and cooking with fuelwood, were influenced by cultural (community-level) values, but primarily structured by (lack of) available resources to enable agents to choose alternative practices. Needs-fulfilment practices held multiple layers of often contradictory meaning. For example, arduous, gendered practices like head-loading water and fuelwood, which detracted from women’s needs like bodily integrity and health, were valued because they were the only actualisable possibilities for fulfilling other needs. Practices that were overtly valued “instrumentally” (materially/economically), were also tacitly valued for fulfilling non-material (socio-cultural) needs, typically associated with “intrinsic” value and altruism. Apparently altruistic practices (i.e., not economically valued) were underpinned by self-interest in social and cultural resource gain. The results highlight important contributions that a (1) philosophically informed, universal definition of needs and (2) sociological conceptualisation that considers structure and agency, can make to further developing plural theories of social values for sustainability.

Keywords

Needs Water–energy–food nexus Lived values Capabilities approach Structure and agency Ethnography 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the community members who shared their time and knowledge in the survey and focus group discussions, and to the community researchers who helped design and implement the study. We appreciate the critical input on earlier drafts of this manuscript provided by Melissa Hansen, Shogo Kudo and Doreen Allisaw. Data were collected as part of MRB’s PhD studies, which were funded by an Australian Postgraduate Award and a Monash University (Australia, Melbourne) Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Postgraduate Excellence Award. These studies were supervised by Helen Keleher, Charles Livingstone, Andrea Whittaker, Bruce Missingham, Jane Fisher and Karin Hammarberg. We thank them for the valuable methodological and theoretical insights they contributed. In the writing of this article MRB was funded by a postdoctoral research fellowship from the Afromontane Research Unit, at the University of the Free State (South Africa, Qwaqwa). We could not have produced this article without critically constructive feedback from two anonymous reviewers and special issue editors (especially Christopher Raymond and Andrea Rawluk). We greatly appreciate the attention, patience and intellectual input that you have provided us.

Author contributions

MRB lead the study, including facilitating and co-designing the participatory action research, designing and implementing the ethnography and leading the data analysis. She drafted the manuscript. BMM participated as a co-researcher in designing and implementing the PAR, including collecting and translating the focus group data and analysing focus group audio and transcripts and map data. He read and provided critical feedback on the manuscript.

References

  1. Arias-Arévalo P, Martín-López B, Gómez-Baggethun E (2017) Exploring intrinsic, instrumental, and relational values for sustainable management of social-ecological systems. Ecol Soc.  https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-09812-220443 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Axelrod L (1994) Balancing personal needs with environmental preservation: identifying the values that guide decisions in ecological dilemmas. J Soc Issues 50(3):85–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bourdieu P (1984) Distinction: a social critique of the judgement of taste (Trans: Nice R). Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  4. Bourdieu P (1986) The forms of capital. In: Richardson R (ed) Handbook of theory of research for sociology of education. Greenwood Press, Westport, pp 241–258Google Scholar
  5. Bourdieu P (1989) Social space and symbolic power. Sociol Theory 7(1):14–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bourdieu P (1990) The logic of practice. Polity Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. Bourdieu P, Wacquant L (1992) An invitation to reflexive sociology. Polity Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  8. Brear MR, Shabangu PN, Fisher JR, Hammarberg K, Keleher HM, Livingstone C (2018) Health capability deprivations in a rural Swazi community: understanding complexity with theoretically informed, qualitatively driven, mixed-method design, participatory action research. Qual Health Res 28(12):1897–1909.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732318768236 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brear MR, Hammarberg K, Fisher J (2019a) Community participation in health research: an ethnography from rural Swaziland. Health Promot Int.  https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/day121 [epub ahead of print] CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brear MR, Shabangu PN, Hammarberg K, Fisher J, Keleher H (2019b) Community-based care of children affected by AIDS in Swaziland: a gender-aware analysis. Prim Health Care Res Dev 20:e15.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S1463423618000774 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chan KM, Gould RK, Pascual U (2018) Editorial overview: relational values: what are they, and what’s the fuss about?. Elsevier, AmsterdamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deci EL, Ryan RM (2000) The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychol Inq 11(4):227–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Denzin NK (2001) Interpretive interactionism, 2nd edn. Sage Publications Inc., Thousand OaksCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Giddens A (1986) The constitution of society: outline of the theory of structuration, vol 349. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  15. GoKS (2014) Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland (Ed.) Sustainable energy for all country action plan. https://www.seforall.org/sites/default/files/Swaziland_RAGA_EN_Released.pdf. Accessed 21 July 2019
  16. Graham S, Barnett J, Fincher R, Hurlimann A, Mortreux C, Waters E (2013) The social values at risk from sea-level rise. Environ Impact Assess Rev 41:45–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Holland B (2008) Justice and the environment in Nussbaum’s “capabilities approach” why sustainable ecological capacity is a meta-capability. Political Res Q 61(2):319–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hsieh H-F, Shannon SE (2005) Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qual Health Res 15(9):1277–1288.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732305276687 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ishihara H (2018) Relational values from a cultural valuation perspective: how can sociology contribute to the evaluation of ecosystem services? Cur Opin Environ Sustain 35:61–68.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2018.10.016 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kenter JO, O’Brien L, Hockley N, Ravenscroft N, Fazey I, Irvine KN, Bryce R (2015) What are shared and social values of ecosystems? Ecol Econ 111:86–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kenter JO, Raymond C, Van Riper CJ, Azzopardi E., Brear MR, Calcagni F, Thankappan S (2019) Loving the mess: Navigating diversity and conflict in social values for sustainability. Sustain Sci [Special Feature: Theoretical Traditions of Social Values for Sustainability], [epub ahead of print] Google Scholar
  22. Kok MC, Dieleman M, Taegtmeyer M, Broerse JE, Kane SS, Ormel H, de Koning KA (2014) Which intervention design factors influence performance of community health workers in low- and middle-income countries? A systematic review. Health Policy Plan 30(9):1207–1227.  https://doi.org/10.1093/heapol/czu126 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kurian M (2017) The water-energy-food nexus: trade-offs, thresholds and transdisciplinary approaches to sustainable development. Environ Sci Policy 68:97–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Madden R (2017) Being ethnographic: a guide to the theory and practice of ethnography. SAGE Publications, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  25. Maslow AH (1943) A theory of human motivation. Psychol Rev 50(4):370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Massenberg JR (2019) Social values and sustainability: a retrospective view on the contribution of economics. Sustain Sci.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-019-00693-w CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Morse JM (2015) Critical analysis of strategies for determining rigor in qualitative inquiry. Qual Health Res 25(9):1212–1222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nussbaum MC (2000) Women and human development: The capabilities approach, vol 3. Cambridge University Press, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. O’Neill J (2011) The overshadowing of needs. Sustain Dev Capab Needs Well-Being 9:25Google Scholar
  30. Rawluk A, Ford RM, Anderson N, Williams KJ (2019) Exploring multiple dimensions of values and valuing: a conceptual framework for mapping and translating values for social-ecological research and practice. Sustain Sci.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-018-0639-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Richter LM, Sherr L, Adato M, Belsey M, Chandan U, Desmond C, Kimou J (2009) Strengthening families to support children affected by HIV and AIDS. AIDS Care 21(S1):3–12.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09540120902923121 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Terry A (2012) Evaluating the green revolution after a decade: a Swaziland case study. Int J Agric Sustain 10(2):135–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Trigg AB (2004) Deriving the Engel curve: pierre Bourdieu and the social critique of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Rev Soc Econ 62(3):393–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. UNAIDS (2006) United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. Helping ourselves: community responses to AIDS in Swaziland. http://data.unaids.org/Publications/IRC-pub07/jc1259-swaziland_en.pdf. Accessed 21 July 2019
  35. UNICEF (2013) United Nations International Children’s Fund. Swaziland- Statistics. http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/swaziland_statistics.html. Accessed 21 July 2019
  36. UNICEF Swaziland (2012) United Nations International Children’s Fund (Swaziland). Neighbourhood care points in Swaziland: Past, present and future. http://www.infocenter.nercha.org.sz/sites/default/files/NCP%20A5.pdf. Accessed 21 July 2019
  37. WCED (1987) World Commission on Environment and Development. Report of the World Commission on environment and development: “Our common future” United Nations. http://www.un-documents.net/our-common-future.pdf. Accessed 21 July 2019
  38. Weitz N, Strambo C, Kemp-Benedict E, Nilsson M (2017) Closing the governance gaps in the water-energy-food nexus: insights from integrative governance. Glob Environ Change 45:165–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Winter CJ (2019) Decolonising dignity for inclusive democracy. Environ Values 28(1):9–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. World Bank (2018) Swaziland overview. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/eswatini/overview. Accessed 21 July 2019

Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education Studies and Afromontane Research UnitUniversity of the Free State-QwaqwaPhuthaditjhabaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Global Public Health Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive MedicineMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.ManziniSwaziland

Personalised recommendations