Exploring a nature-related conflict from a capability perspective
Using the capability approach, we analyse a recent conflict around nature conservation in the city of Leipzig, Germany. Following its concept of flood protection, a state authority felled thousands of trees in a highly popular nature protection area, which culminated in public protests and lawsuits against the state authority. This analysis has a twofold aim: (1) to better understand the conflict at hand, and (2) to explore the advantages and limitations of using the capability approach for addressing such a nature-related conflict involving collective actors. Our analysis of the actors' positions and interplay between them goes along the lines of the capability approach and gives insight into the conflict from a freedoms perspective. We use qualitative research methods to examine the case, relying upon semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders as well as a document analysis. The capability approach offers a freedom-agency lens and proves to be helpful in analysing the conflict; however, to understand the case better, certain process-specific variables absent from a typical capability formation framework have to be considered as well.
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