Social Dimensions of Bison Management in Yellowstone
The Social Implications of the Bison Brucellosis Conflict
By definition, the term social is a wide-open category. Therefore,
we can situate numerous issues under this rubric. We have dealt
with most parts of these issues in the previous sections.
The term social derives from society. There are different ways
to approach this global category. But as we have tried to show through
the example of the Bison Brucellosis, every fact, even an exclusively
biological fact, can have repercussions in all the sections of the
The presence of Brucella into the bison of Yellowstone is a
biological fact that generates a social conflict. This conflict
of interests mobilizes forces in different fields of the involved
Civil society takes sides to defend bison or cattle.
Environmental groups and cattle lobbying groups are involved in
this social mobilization. The formers defend nature for its beauty
and its essence; they approach the landscape as a commodity to enjoy
via tourism and contemplation. The latter see the world as a place
to physically live and that must produce things to sell and sustain
its population. In conclusion, the choices of different sectors
of the population are conditioned by a series of cultural values.
the economic arena,
we can see how the different affected sectors fight against each
other trying to minimize the threat to their industries, or maximizing
their chances to succeed in the arena set up by this conflict.
the political field,
the institutional actors take position after being lobbied by different
non-institutional actors and following calculations of political
profit depending on their voters. The managerial strategies implemented
and the conflicting relations sustained by these institutions are
deeply influenced by this social background of politics.
although in the name of clarity we have separated all these issues
in nice and compartmented categories, Bison Brucellosis is a excellent
issue in observing the interdependence of the different social levels
involved in a social conflict. As we have seen, the politics of
this issue canít be understood without its economics, and the mobilization
of the civil society has no sense if it isnít connected with opposed
cultural values such as recreation and exploitation.