Latorre Tomas, Sara, & Antonio Malo Larrea (2019, January). Policy-making related actors’ understandings about nature-society relationship: Beyond modern ontologies? The case of Cuenca, Ecuador. Ecological Economics, 156, 387-396. (doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.10.017) (Link:

Abstract: Over the last five decades the discursive debate on sustainability has reached prominence as the socio-ecological impacts of the human presence on Earth have grown rapidly. Nature discourses are interwoven with those of sustainability. Within this discursive field, a diverse set of competing discourses have emerged. Among the most radical ones, the discourse of Buen Vivir has recently gained relevance in Latin America. This position aims to depart from modern western ideologies, mainly those of nature-society dualism and Eurocentric universalism. In this study, the social perspectives about nature-society of subnational policy makers and other social actors involved in territorial planning in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador are examined. Four main social discourses are identified, which instead of breaking away from the society-nature divide, embrace it. Therefore, the case of Cuenca suggests that Ecuadorian citizens (including policy-makers) are still captured by the same discourses on nature-society belonging to the discursive field of modernity and its more contemporary corollaries: development and sustainable development. Hence, relational ontologies promoted by the discourse of Buen Vivir still do not resonate among Ecuadorian policy-related actors.

Sara Latorre Tomas <> is on the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, FLACSO, Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador.