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Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1050; doi:10.3390/su9071050

Social Ecology as Critical, Transdisciplinary Science—Conceptualizing, Analyzing and Shaping Societal Relations to Nature

1
ISOE—Institute for Social-Ecological Research, 60486 Frankfurt/Main, Germany
2
Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, 60325 Frankfurt/Main, Germany
3
keep it balanced, 10999 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 3 April 2017 / Accepted: 8 April 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 [851 KB, uploaded 26 June 2017]   |  

Abstract

The sustainability discourse is, essentially, centered on the question of how complex relations between nature and society can be conceptualized, analyzed and shaped. In this paper, we present a specific interpretation of social ecology as an attempt to address this question. For this purpose, we establish Frankfurt Social Ecology (FSE) as a formal research program, which is based on the concept of societal relations to nature (SRN). The basic idea of the SRN concept is to put the modern distinction between nature and society at the start of a critical analysis. Such an analysis, we argue, has to focus on the interplay between what we call patterns and modes of regulation. Whereas patterns of regulation stand for the material and symbolic aspects of the organization of the individual and societal satisfaction of needs, modes of regulation mirror the norms and power structures of a society. Using an approach that is based on reformulating social-ecological systems as provisioning systems, we show how this interplay can be analyzed empirically. Finally, we propose critical transdisciplinarity as the research mode of choice of FSE. To conclude, we discuss how FSE can contribute to the development of a research program for a sustainable Anthropocene. View Full-Text
Keywords: Anthropocene; critical theory; social-ecological systems; social ecology; societal relations to nature; sustainable development; transdisciplinarity Anthropocene; critical theory; social-ecological systems; social ecology; societal relations to nature; sustainable development; transdisciplinarity
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hummel, D.; Jahn, T.; Keil, F.; Liehr, S.; Stieß, I. Social Ecology as Critical, Transdisciplinary Science—Conceptualizing, Analyzing and Shaping Societal Relations to Nature. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1050.

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