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Article

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

AMA 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(7):1045. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9071045

Chicago/Turabian Style

Görg, Christoph, Ulrich Brand, Helmut Haberl, Diana Hummel, Thomas Jahn, and Stefan Liehr. 2017. "Challenges for Social-Ecological Transformations: Contributions from Social and Political Ecology" Sustainability 9, no. 7: 1045. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9071045

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