Towards a Sociology of the Real

Re-Introduction of Bears in the Pyrenees

In: Society & Animals
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The real constantly bucks against scientific figuration and political manipulation. This standpoint is applied here to the conflict that arose in the mid-1990s, when the French Environment Ministry won European Union backing to reintroduce brown bears in the Pyrenees with the enthusiastic support of ecologists, political parties from across the ideological spectrum, celebrities, and public figures. The project was plagued by hitches: manifestations of the real. These problems affected the social, natural, and socio-natural conditions of the scheme, and they point to the existence of other social and natural spheres of being and to unforeseen relationships between them. I argue that the real must be made to embrace both the project’s failings and the natural, social, and socio-natural spheres which are so resistant to intellectual construction. The sociology of the real applied will be used to explain the social conditions underlying the project’s failings and the resistance it stirred up.

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