A Brave New Symbiotic World: An Emerging Ecological Order of Worth

Nicholas Haagensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The objective of this thesis is to understand what can be considered a legitimate justification to act in ways considered radical by some in a time of ecological uncertainty and calamity. For this, I have chosen the biotechnology industry’s use of gene technology as the action considered radical, given its controversial history, and more importantly given its current justifications based on what can be considered sustainable and what can be considered natural in the domain of biotechnology. The action together with the justification of course engenders controversy, mostly from non-governmental organisations (NGO) that not only see gene technology as unpredictable, but also see the justifications based on what is natural and sustainable as very dubious. This configuration of these two disputants, the biotech industry on the one side, and the NGOs on the other is the point of departure for this these, which develops into a more thorough analysis of the biotech industry’s general arrangements of entities that are used as the foundation for their justifications. These justifications are analysed using the Orders of Worth theoretical framework as conceived by Boltanski & Thévenot (2006), with the added theoretical lens of emerging “green” and “ecological” orders of worth by Thévenot et al. (2000), Latour (1998) and Blok (2013), to draw out and integrate the tensions engendered by the industry’s various justifications and are then consolidated into a particular ecological order of worth that reflects the biotechnology industry’s moral underpinnings. The findings show that there is a possible emerging ecological order of worth which I have dubbed symbiotic worth.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages104
SupervisorsStefano Ponte