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Competing Values in World Culture and the Emergence of Middle Ground

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

This paper, focusing on a Botswanan case of Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM), illustrates how globalized norms in seeming competition nonetheless reveal a potential middle ground. In Botswana there have been conflicts between regimes of environmentalism and indigenous cultural rights. Environmental protectionism has been based on a concept of “pristine nature” which does not allow for human interaction. Thus, the more protected areas are designated, the more indigenous peoples' lands are claimed as nature reserves. This forces local peoples to abandon cultural practices such as hunting animals and gathering wild plants. In contrast, impelled by the ascention of human rights issues, advocacy groups for the unorganized fourth world and indigenous communities have been struggling to protect indigenous people's cultural rights, thereby giving prominence to human rights issues. NGO advocates for indigenous peoples as well as professionals involved with indigenous groups have found that indigenous people's practices are in fact not harmful to the ecosystem. Rather, their ethno-biological knowledge and customary activities contribute to balancing the local ecosystem. This means that conflicting guidelines can be harmonized in “buffer zones” around protected areas, and the buffering program that has resulted, that by CBNRM, has been widely accepted in Botswana and is likely applicable to other countries in which we find similar value competition.

Affiliations: 1: Sociology, Korea University, Anam-dong 5-ga, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, South Korea;, Email:


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