Wiebren Boonstra


Kort presentation

My research investigates the social-historical dynamics of primary resources, and how it impacts the long-term biocultural sustainability of sea- and landscapes


  • agriculture
  • alternative technologies
  • fisheries
  • global change
  • moral responsibility
  • power
  • qualitative methods
  • rural development
  • rural studies
  • small-scale fisheries
  • smallholders
  • sociological theory
  • sociology
  • sociology of emotion
  • sustainability studies
  • sustainability transition


From an early age I have been fascinated by the diverse ways in which humans work with and dependent on nature. This fascination led me to scientifically study rural life as a MSc student (1995-2000) in Rural Development Studies, and as a PhD student (2001-2006) in Rural Sociology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. I also worked at the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences (2006-2010), the department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University (2015-2018), the Stockholm Resilience Centre (2010-2020), and I have spent 10 months as visiting professor at the Department of Ecology and Natural Resources and Human Ecology at Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA (2016-2017).


The thematic focus of my research can be summarized broadly as the social dynamics and relations that shape the primary use of natural resources. My case studies - located in The Netherlands, Malawi, Australia, Vietnam, and Sweden - include investigations of how farmers and fishers impact and depend upon terrestrial and marine ecologies. I am particularly interested in understanding (mis)matches between the values, interests of farmers and fishers and the social and ecological opportunities to realize their preferred farming and fishing styles. I strive to construct case studies through a mixed-method design that includes qualitative and quantitative methods.

I also work to develop social scientific theory and method for the study of natural resource use, to contribute to the development of sustainability science in research and education. I supervise students at both MSc and PhD levels, and teach courses at both levels. Furthermore, I also act as an associate editor for the journal Ambio: A journal of the Human Environment, which is published by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Springer, and serve on the editorial board of the journals Society & Natural Resources and Sustainability Science. I also contribute as lead author to the upcoming IPBES assessment on Transformative Change.

One of my major research projects is on urban fishing and fishers. More information can be found here.

A complete list of my published work can be found here.


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Wiebren Boonstra