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  1. Abstract

    Social practice theory offers a multidisciplinary perspective on the relationship between infrastructure and wellbeing. One prominent model in practice theory frames systems of provision as the rules, resources, and structures that enable the organization of social practices, encompassing both material and immaterial aspects of infrastructures. A second well-known model frames social practices in terms of their constituent elements: meanings, materials, and competences. Reconciling these two models, we argue that household capacity to respond to shifting systems of provision to maintain wellbeing is profoundly tied to the dynamics of privilege and inequity. To examine these dynamics, we propose a new analytical tool utilizing the Bourdieuian conceptualization of forms of capital, deepening the ability of social practice theory to address structural inequities by re-examining the question of who is able to access specific infrastructures. To illustrate this approach, we examine how households adapted to shifting systems of provision during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using data from 183 households in the Midwestern United States, we apply this tool to analyze adaptations to disruptions of multiple systems of provision, including work, school, food, and health, from February 2020 to August 2021. We highlight how household wellbeing during the pandemic has been impacted by formsmore »of capital available to specific households, even as new social practices surrounding COVID-19 prevention became increasingly politicized. This research provides insight into both acute challenges and resilient social practices involving household consumption, indicating a need for policies that can address structural inequities across multiple systems of provision.

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  2. Abstract Scientific study of issues at the nexus of food–energy–water systems (FEWS) requires grappling with multifaceted, “wicked” problems. FEWS involve interactions occurring directly and indirectly across complex and overlapping spatial and temporal scales; they are also imbued with diverse and sometimes conflicting meanings for the human and more-than-human beings that live within them. In this paper, we consider the role of language in the dynamics of boundary work, recognizing that the language often used in stakeholder and community engagement intended to address FEWS science and decision-making constructs boundaries and limits diverse and inclusive participation. In contrast, some language systems provide opportunities to build bridges rather than boundaries in engagement. Based on our experiences with engagement in FEWS science and with Indigenous knowledges and languages, we consider examples of the role of language in reflecting worldviews, values, practices, and interactions in FEWS science and engagement. We particularly focus on Indigenous knowledges from Anishinaabe and the language of Anishinaabemowin, contrasting languages of boundaries and bridges through concrete examples. These examples are used to unpack the argument of this work, which is that scientific research aiming to engage FEWS issues in working landscapes requires grappling with embedded, practical understandings. This perspective demonstrates themore »importance of grappling with the role of language in creating boundaries or bridges, while recognizing that training in engagement may not critically reflect on the role of language in limiting diversity and inclusivity in engagement efforts. Leaving this reflexive consideration of language unexamined may unknowingly perpetuate boundaries rather than building bridges, thus limiting the effectiveness of engagement that is intended to address wicked problems in working landscapes.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023