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The Good, Green Gold of Spring


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About the Author

Jon Dahlem is an environmental sociologist with a Ph.D. in sociology from Washington State University who specializes in the sociologies of biodiversity loss and species conservation. In particular, his work applies qualitative research methods to case studies in conservation in order to explicate the underlying social causes of sociopolitical inertia toward solving urgent environmental problems. He has produced work exploring the analogous phenomenon of inaction toward abating climate change. Having recently completed a case study of the conservation of Island Marble Butterflies on San Juan Island, WA, Jon is currently developing an extensive case study of Nebraskan Sandhill Crane conservation practices. He currently works as Assistant Professor and Program Director of Sociology at Bellevue University, in Bellevue, NE.


A specifically sociological perspective has been largely absent thus far from the rapidly growing field of critical conservation studies. In "The Good, Green Gold of Spring", Jon Dahlem convincingly demonstrates this perspective's unique contribution to both research and practice aiming to confront the impending sixth extinction crisis.
Dr. Robert FletcherWageningen University & Research

Jon Dahlem has produced something environmental sociologists have needed for a very long time: a "conservation sociology." Through an extensive case study of the Island Marble Butterfly, Dahlem shows how we can both seek to understand as well as advocate for efforts to conserve biodiversity during this age of the sixth great extinction. What is more, Dahlem has a knack for presenting complex ideas and processes in a relatable manner. He has a deep respect for natural science, though situates both natural and social science within its proper historical, cultural, and political contexts. This book should be welcomed by anyone concerned about drastic environmental change.
Dr. Jordan Fox BesekDepartment of SociologyState University of New York at Buffalo

What can the Island Marble butterfly-a thumbnail-sized insect-tell us about society? Jon Dahlem answers this question with social scientific rigor in "The Good, Green Gold of Spring." His ethnography transports readers to the lush San Juan Islands in Washington state, where the Island Marble butterfly commands attention from conservationists who clash over how to study and care for the species. Dahlem's thoughtful analysis also situates IMB conservation in a broader social and political context, where conservationists' actions reveal truths about power, inequality, and the environment. Dahlem deftly connects his observations of butterfly-human interactions to larger themes and debates in social science. His elegant depiction of waiting to observe an IMB's first flight-an ability that will only last for seven days before it dies-underscores the important, and often incongruent, relationship between sociocultural and biophysical time as a key challenge in conservation movements.The book's call for a conservation sociology is innovative and well-supported by data. The discipline of sociology has much to offer conservation efforts-namely, the perspective that science cannot be separated from the people who do it and the systems they exist in. "The Good, Green Gold of Spring" charts a roadmap for how sociologists can describe problems and prescribe solutions for the pressing needs of species conservation.
Dr. Pierce GreenbergDepartment of SociologyCreighton University

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