Research

Research interests

I conduct research on socioecological change in modern societies. I aim to develop an empirically based theory of societal transformation towards forms of society and economy which, not depending on perpetual economic growth, aim at the wellbeing of all and sustain the ecological basis of life. I also strive to contribute to the public debate on societal transformation, and to build a bridge between theory and political action.

My research agenda is structured primarily along two research lines:

  1. How does societal transformation toward sustainability happen? I am interested in ongoing processes of societal transformation led by grassroots civil society actors and social movements, especially those mobilizing around agri-food systems' (un)sustainability. For example, with my research team I am exploring the processes of deconstruction of capitalism that are involved in such grassroots-led processes of transformation. Earlier, I have studied the diffusion of grassroots initiatives, such as Transition Towns, to better understand the conditions for their emergence and consolidation in different places. Central to this research line is the use of critical, postdevelopment and decolonial approaches for theorizing transformation toward sustainability.

Key publications in this research line are:


  1. What are the linkages between the environment and (rural) development, and how do individual and collective actors govern them? I have investigated sociocultural responses of Andean peasant and and the resilience of smallholding communities to environmental change; I have developed non-reductionist approaches to understanding how farmers make environmentally relevant decisions; I have investigated land-use conflicts in peri-urban spaces; and I have discussed indicator-based sustainability assessment methods in agriculture. This research has primarily taken place in Colombia.

Key publications in this research line are:

Ongoing projects