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Selected Publication:

Fischer-Kowalski, M; Erb, K.
(2006): Epistemological and conceptual bases of social ecology
MITT OSTERR GEOGR G. 2006; 148: 33-56.

Social ecology deals with society-nature interactions. It needs to be based on epistemological assumptions that allow treating natural and cultural processes, and their mutual relations, on an equal footing. In this paper, these assumptions are briefly outlined and lead to a systemic model in which society is conceptualised as a structural coupling of a cultural system (a system of recursive communication) with biophysical elements. Society-nature interactions are conceived as social metabolism and colonisation of natural systems; both concepts have been probed by extensive quantitative empirical research. Finally, we argue that such an understanding may be beneficial for geography, on the one hand, and a challenge, on the other hand, as the relationship between social metabolism and space or territory is not only historically highly variable, but also theoretically complex and precludes simple mutual attributions.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Erb Karlheinz
Fischer-Kowalski Marina

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