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Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1045; doi:10.3390/su9071045

Challenges for Social-Ecological Transformations: Contributions from Social and Political Ecology

1
Institute of Social Ecology, 1070 Vienna, Alpen-Adria Universitaet Klagenfurt, 9020 Klagenfurt, Austria
2
Department of Political Science, University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria
3
ISOE—Institute for Social-Ecological Research, 60486 Frankfurt/M., Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 February 2017 / Revised: 31 May 2017 / Accepted: 4 June 2017 / Published: 26 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Ecology. State of the Art and Future Prospects)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [294 KB, uploaded 28 June 2017]

Abstract

Transformation has become a major topic of sustainability research. This opens up new perspectives, but at the same time, runs the danger to convert into a new critical orthodoxy which narrows down analytical perspectives. Most research is committed towards a political-strategic approach towards transformation. This focus, however, clashes with ongoing transformation processes towards un-sustainability. The paper presents cornerstones of an integrative approach to social-ecological transformations (SET), which builds upon empirical work and conceptual considerations from Social Ecology and Political Ecology. We argue that a critical understanding of the challenges for societal transformations can be advanced by focusing on the interdependencies between societies and the natural environment. This starting point provides a more realistic understanding of the societal and biophysical constraints of sustainability transformations by emphasising the crisis-driven and contested character of the appropriation of nature and the power relations involved. Moreover, it pursues a transdisciplinary mode of research, decisive for adequately understanding any strategy for transformations towards sustainability. Such a conceptual approach of SET is supposed to better integrate the analytical, normative and political-strategic dimension of transformation research. We use the examples of global land use patterns, neo-extractivism in Latin America and the global water crisis to clarify our approach. View Full-Text
Keywords: social-ecological transformation; societal relations to nature; social ecology; political ecology; land use; resource-extractivism; water crisis; transdisciplinarity social-ecological transformation; societal relations to nature; social ecology; political ecology; land use; resource-extractivism; water crisis; transdisciplinarity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Görg, C.; Brand, U.; Haberl, H.; Hummel, D.; Jahn, T.; Liehr, S. Challenges for Social-Ecological Transformations: Contributions from Social and Political Ecology. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1045.

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