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DEV Research Seminar - Friday 18th October

Sarah Coulthard, from Northumbria University, will be presenting her findings from WellFish – an ESRC funded project.


How a Social Wellbeing Lens can Illuminate and Connect Fresh Insights into How People Use, and Depend upon, Natural Resources.

Friday 18th October | ARTS 2.03 | 12-1pm | Sarah Coulthard

Multidimensional concepts of wellbeing are increasingly recognised to be useful in understanding the complex and diverse ways by which people interact with the natural environment. This seminar presents the main findings from WellFish- an ESRC funded project - which applied a 3D or ‘social’ concept of wellbeing to unpack human-environment relationships in small-scale fishing communities in Sri Lanka and India. In both countries, a social wellbeing approach revealed the centrality of social relationships to the achievement, or denial, of wellbeing. We discuss how ‘good marital relations’ were particularly important for women, and the influential role of relationships with loan sharks and middle men in shaping how people fish. These insights demand a broadening of focus from the dominant narrative of ‘economic man’ as driving human behaviour, to a more socialised understanding of people – living together - in their environment. Whilst this is nothing new to sociologists, relational aspects of wellbeing remain overlooked by natural resource management.  The seminar concludes with reflections on what wellbeing might contribute to debates on sustainable behaviour more broadly.