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Conceptualizing Distal Drivers in Land Use Competition

Part of the Human-Environment Interactions book series (HUEN,volume 6)

Abstract

This introductory chapter explores the notion of ‘distal drivers’ in land use competition. Research has moved beyond proximate causes of land cover and land use change to focus on the underlying drivers of these dynamics. We discuss the framework of telecoupling within human–environment systems as a first step to come to terms with the increasingly distal nature of driving forces behind land use practices. We then expand the notion of distal as mainly a measure of Euclidian space to include temporal, social, and institutional dimensions. This understanding of distal widens our analytical scope for the analysis of land use competition as a distributed process to consider the role of knowledge and power, technology, and different temporalities within a relational or systemic analysis of practices of land use competition. We conclude by pointing toward the historical and social contingency of land use competition and by acknowledging that this contingency requires a methodological–analytical approach to dynamics that goes beyond linear cause–effect relationships. A critical component of future research will be a better understanding of different types of feedback processes reaching from biophysical feedback loops to feedback produced by individual or institutional reflexivity.

Keywords

  • Telecoupling
  • Social space
  • Systemic effects
  • Competition as process
  • Power/knowledge

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Notes

  1. 1.

    We emphasize that this symbolic dimension is by no means restricted to indigenous groups. Debates in Germany in the 1980s about ‘Waldsterben,’ i.e., the dying of forests due to increasingly acidic rain, made abundantly clear how important forests are in German discourse and symbolism. Not least the concept of the ‘risk society’ has been developed by German sociologist Ulrich Beck under the impression of the debates about dying forests. (cf. Adam et al. 2007).

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Correspondence to Jörg Niewöhner .

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Niewöhner, J. et al. (2016). Conceptualizing Distal Drivers in Land Use Competition. In: , et al. Land Use Competition. Human-Environment Interactions, vol 6. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-33628-2_2

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