Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780226543826 Published April 2018
Cloth $105.00 ISBN: 9780226376639 Published April 2018
E-book $10.00 to $35.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226543963 Published April 2018 Also Available From

Moral Entanglements

Conserving Birds in Britain and Germany

Stefan Bargheer

Moral Entanglements

Stefan Bargheer

336 pages | 17 halftones, 1 line drawing | 6 x 9 | © 2018
Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780226543826 Published April 2018
Cloth $105.00 ISBN: 9780226376639 Published April 2018
E-book $10.00 to $35.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226543963 Published April 2018
At the center of Stefan Bargheer’s account of bird watching, field ornithology, and nature conservation in Britain and Germany stands the question of how values change over time and how individuals develop moral commitments. Using life history data derived from written narratives and oral histories, Moral Entanglements follows the development of conservation from the point in time at which the greatest declines in bird life took place to the current efforts in large-scale biodiversity conservation and environmental policy within the European Union. While often depicted as the outcome of an environmental revolution that has taken place since the 1960s, Bargheer demonstrates to the contrary that the relevant practices and institutions that shape contemporary conservation have evolved gradually since the early nineteenth century. Moral Entanglements further shows that the practices and institutions in which bird conservation is entangled differ between the two countries. In Britain, birds derived their meaning in the context of the game of bird watching as a leisure activity. Here birds are now, as then, the most popular and best protected taxonomic group of wildlife due to their particularly suitable status as toys in a collecting game, turning nature into a playground. In Germany, by contrast, birds were initially part of the world of work. They were protected as useful economic tools, rendering services of ecological pest control in a system of agricultural production modeled after the factory shop floor. Based on this extensive analysis, Bargheer formulates a sociology of morality informed by a pragmatist theory of value.
List of Abbreviations
Prologue: A Bird’s Eye View
1 A Pragmatist Theory of Morality
2 Collector’s Items and Viable Means
3 Technology Comes to the Countryside
4 Field Ornithology and Practical Bird Conservation
5 Endangered Birds and Indicator Species
6 Bird Watching as Organizational Strategy
7 Data Power and Geographical Reference Frames
Conclusion: Studying Morality
Appendix 1: Method and Data
Appendix 2: Names and Translations
List of Interviews
Review Quotes
American Journal of Sociology
“In Moral Entanglements, Stefan Bargheer achieves at a general level a significant accomplishment for any social scientist: the book provides a nonobvious, convincing, and relevant explanation for something seemingly already explained by common sense.“
“This important book about the history of bird conservation in Europe has lessons for a North American audience.” 
British Trust for Ornithology
“[Moral Entanglements] provides a well written historical account of bird watching, ornithology, and nature conservation in Britain and Germany, from the naturalist collectors of the late eighteenth century to current efforts in international biodiversity conservation, as well as fascinating insights into the societal and political settings of each of the two countries and how these have shaped two distinct sets of practices and institutions. . . . Bargheer makes a convincing argument about how the collecting game has shaped the relationship of many people with birds, and how the shift from specimen and egg collection to listing and nature photography turned a morally questionable practice into a motivator for nature conservation.”
Andrew Abbott, University of Chicago
“A revolutionary book. Bargheer uses a wonderfully interesting and meticulously analyzed pair of cases to recover and elaborate a Deweyan theory of morality and play. The brilliant insight of his theory is matched by the beguiling character of his empirical evidence, both the historical data of the earlier period and the interview data that brings the analysis into the present. At once easy to read and intellectually powerful, the book will transform sociological approaches to morality.”
Marion Fourcade, University of California, Berkeley
Moral Entanglements is an impressive achievement—a feat of historical work, a dazzling parade of scholarly erudition, and an elegant piece of writing. Even if you know nothing about or have no interest in birds you will find this original and meticulous book to be strangely engrossing. Bargheer has left no stone unturned, pondered every side of every debate, and chiseled his writing to perfection. It is rare, indeed, to come across such a remarkably well-researched piece of scholarship.”

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