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Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 265; doi:10.3390/su9020265

Surplus, Scarcity and Soil Fertility in Pre-Industrial Austrian Agriculture—The Sustainability Costs of Inequality

Institute of Social Ecology, Alpen-Adria-University, 1070 Vienna, Austria
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Received: 15 November 2016 / Accepted: 2 February 2017 / Published: 13 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Ecology. State of the Art and Future Prospects)
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Abstract

This paper takes a Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research (LTSER) perspective to integrate important aspects of social inequality into Socio-Ecological Metabolism (SEM) research. SEM has dealt with biophysical features of pre-industrial agricultural systems from a largely apolitical perspective, neglecting social relations and conditions of peasant production and reproduction. One of the politically and economically most important manorial systems in Early Modern Austria (Grundherrschaft Grafenegg) serves as a case study to reconstruct the unequal distribution of central resources between ruling landlords and subjected peasants. We show that peasant land use systems generated small surpluses only, whereas landlords enjoyed significant economies of scale. Furthermore, we explore what these conditions of landlord surplus and peasant scarcity implied for their respective agro-ecological sustainability. Finally, we argue that within pre-industrial agrarian systems sustainability costs of inequality were severely limiting margins for agricultural intensification and growth of peasant economies. View Full-Text
Keywords: long-term socio-ecological research; social inequality; land costs of sustainability; material and nutrient flow accounting; pre-industrial agriculture long-term socio-ecological research; social inequality; land costs of sustainability; material and nutrient flow accounting; pre-industrial agriculture
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Gizicki-Neundlinger, M.; Güldner, A.D. Surplus, Scarcity and Soil Fertility in Pre-Industrial Austrian Agriculture—The Sustainability Costs of Inequality. Sustainability 2017, 9, 265.

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