[We’re pleased to welcome authors Silvio Eduardo Alvarez Candido, Fernanda Veríssimo Soulé, and Mário Sacomano Neto of the Federal University of Sao Carlos. They recently published an article in Organization & Environment entitled “The Emergence of “Solidarity Recycling” in Brazil: Structural Convergences and Strategic Actions in Interconnected Fields,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Candido reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]
The paper is part of my PhD thesis, presented at the Federal University of Sao Carlos (UFSCar) in 2016. I invited Fernanda Soule and Mário Sacomano, close colleagues who intensively participated in the elaboration of the argument, to co-author this specific result. The idea to study recycling is associated with my long standing interest in environmental and social issues. The perception that in Brazil environmentalism was very commonly tied to issues of social justice always impressed me and I decided to study one of the cases in which these two categories were also very entangled with economic practices, what lead me to recycling. I was lucky enough to be part of a Research Center very specialized in Bourdieu’s sociology, the Center of Economic and Financial Sociology of UFSCar, coordinated by Professors Roberto Grün, who actually studied with the French sociologist, and Julio Donadone, also a great specialist in his work. I was also lucky to read the book “A theory of fields”, from Neil Fligstein and Doug McAdam, right after its release in 2012, while beginning the research, and discussing it in a group led by Professor Mauro Rocha Côrtes. The considerations of the authors about the little attention given by scholars to the issue of the interconnection of fields encouraged me to carry the “though experiment” of building my research object as an ensemble of fields. With the progress of the research, I also noticed that neither their approach or Bourdieu’s alone could account my case completely, what directed me to cross-fertilize the perspectives.
These choices implicated in great theoretical challenges, since the topic of the interconnection of fields is considered to be a very complicated one by the authors, implicating in extensive data collection about several different spheres of practice. The presentations and discussions of preliminary research results in meetings of the Society for Advancements of Socio Economics, in colloquiums of the European Group of Organization Studies, and in a period of six months I spent in the University of Alberta, under the supervision of Professor Michael Lounsbury, were certainly decisive so that these challenges could be overcome. I believe that in the paper we demonstrated that the concept of field may be used as a very flexible research tool, capable of capturing at the same time the more structural and situational dynamics of social life. The case of the rise of solidarity recycling in Brazil was actually very rich and great to demonstrate this. It was clear that this emergence process was conditioned by the broad social structures of Brazil. It was also very surprising to discover how the genesis of these very heterodox practices was attached to progressive branches of the Catholic Church, its spread depended on the collaboration of UNICEF and of critical academics and how its consecration is associated to the support of both left wing governments and beverage industry. I hope this put forward novel ways to understand the cultural-political dynamics underlying social change and, specifically, transitions to sustainability.