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Stéphanie Barral

LISIS, Inra, marne la Vallée, France

Markets for Ecosystem Services: Economic valuation of scientific knowledge, the case of endangered species credits in the USA

Annual meeting: 2019

Fields-Topics: P7 Economics, Social Sciences

Type of talk: Fellows Speed Presentation


I am a research scientist in sociology at INRA with a background in agronomy. I hold a Master Degree from Montpellier SupAgro and I received my PhD from EHESS (the French School for Social Science Studies, Paris). My research interests are first related to agriculture: during my PhD and post-doctoral researches, I have worked on several issues related to agricultural production such as farm labor issues, farm transfers, agrarian capitalism, land markets, agricultural policies. Drawing on a wide field experience including Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Chile, France and United States I seek to understand the current transformations of agriculture through economic sociology and political economy. Since my arrival at INRA in 2014, I have integrated environmental issues as drivers for agricultural change in the scope of my research. I gopt an AgreenSkills fellowship at the Center for Organizationnal Innovation, University of Columbia, New York, USA


Markets for Ecosystem Services: Economic valuation of scientific knowledge, the case of endangered species credits in the USA

Markets for ecosystems services are currently developed as a response to environmental damages. They can be defined as the making of business exchanges based on the economic valuation of environmental goods. Prior to their valuation, these environmental goods need to be defined, that is to say built as abstract categories, and then quantified scientifically. As ecosystem services are complex and non-determinist processes, these operations are particularly deemed with uncertainty and thus controversial. Nevertheless markets for ecosystem services have been developed for a few decades now, and this economization of environment was made possible by the construction of new relationships between scientists and economic actors. From this stems the research question of this project: what do markets do to scientific knowledge production? The aim of this research project is then to analyze the new interface between environmental sciences and economy. Taking into account the contribution of economic sociology in understanding the role of knowledge production in the making of economy, I intentionally reverse the point in question raising the issue of scientific knowledge production’s entanglement in business constraints. Biodiversity offsetting appears to be a relevant study case to work on this question both theoretically and empirically. From a theoretical point of view, it allows to deepen three sociological debates. The first one relates to the activities of markets intermediaries and the way they structure markets. The second one relates to the transformation of public regulation frameworks linked with the integration of scientific knowledge as a new field to be ruled. The third one tackles the question of the new social relations that can be read into the marketization of environment. Empirically, I take the American and German biodiversity offset cases as standpoints to observe the making of emerging environmental markets in France.

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