2022-12-12Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/26338
From a Challenge to an Opportunity
Sustainability and the “Dark Side” of Social Capital in Paros, Greece
The role of social capital for socio-ecological systems is undisputed. While fostering cooperation in some communities, however, social capital can also lead to tight social control and distrust towards outsiders and new practices, contributing to the persistence of undesirable, unsustainable practices. This paper explores the challenges emerging from the “dark side” of social capital for sustainability efforts in socio-ecological systems, raising the question how they can be addressed and overcome. It focuses on the case of Paros, Greece, where decades of mass tourism and conventional agriculture have put a heavy burden on the socio-ecological system. In the aftermath of the 2008-2011 crisis, returnees and newcomers leaving mainland Greece brought new ideas on how to reconcile the island’s economy, ecology, and society with one another. Interviews reveal how the specifics of social capital in Paros posed structural, cognitive, and relational challenges to their projects. Surprisingly, though, those challenges could be turned into opportunities to embed new projects on the island. Promoting sustainability in socioecological systems may thus be less a matter of creating more social capital, but one of tailoring interventions to the specific type of social capital available.
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The article processing charge was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – 491192747 and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.