Volume 22, Issue 4, Winter 2000
David W. Kidner
A Critique of the Social Construction of Nature
Models of nature have usually referred to ecological, or more generally, scientific understandings, and have seldom included cultural factors. Recently, however, there has been a trend toward defining nature as a “social construction,” that is, as an artifact of human social and linguistic capability. I argue that constructionism attempts to assimilate nature to an exclusively anthropocentric “reality,” and that it should be seen as expressing long-term industrialist tendencies to separate the “human” and the “natural” realms and to assimilate the latter to the former. Consequently, the constructionist approach, rather than offering us a fertile means of incorporating cultural influences within environmental theorizing, is better viewed as a cognitive counterpart to industrialism’s physical assimilation of the natural world.