Social Dimensions of Bison Management in Yellowstone Park

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 social spectrum.

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 society

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.

In 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.

In 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.

Finally; 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.