What is POLITICAL ECOLOGY? What does POLITICAL ECOLOGY mean? POLITICAL ECOLOGY meaning - POLITICAL ECOLOGY definition - POLITICAL ECOLOGY explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
Political ecology is the study of the relationships between political, economic and social factors with environmental issues and changes. Political ecology differs from apolitical ecological studies by politicizing environmental issues and phenomena.
The academic discipline offers wide-ranging studies integrating ecological social sciences with political economy in topics such as degradation and marginalization, environmental conflict, conservation and control, and environmental identities and social movements.
The term "political ecology" was first coined by Frank Thone in an article published in 1935. It has been widely used since then in the context of human geography and human ecology, but with no systematic definition. Anthropologist Eric R. Wolf gave it a second life in 1972 in an article entitled "Ownership and Political Ecology," in which he discusses how local rules of ownership and inheritance "mediate between the pressures emanating from the larger society and the exigencies of the local ecosystem", but did not develop the concept further Other origins include other early works of Wolf as well as John W. Cole at the University of Massachusetts, Hans Magnus Enzensberger and others in the 1970s and 1980s.
The origins of the field in the 1970s and 1980s were a result of the development of development geography and cultural ecology., particularly the work of Piers Blaikie on the sociopolitical origins of soil erosion. Historically, political ecology has focused on phenomena in and affecting the developing world; since the field’s inception, "research has sought primarily to understand the political dynamics surrounding material and discursive struggles over the environment in the third world".
Scholars in political ecology are drawn from a variety of academic disciplines, including geography, anthropology, development studies, political science, sociology, forestry, and environmental history.
Political ecology’s broad scope and interdisciplinary nature lends itself to multiple definitions and understandings. However, common assumptions across the field give the term relevance. Raymond L. Bryant and Sinéad Bailey developed three fundamental assumptions in practicing political ecology:
First, costs and benefits associated with environmental change are distributed unequally. Changes in the environment do not affect society in a homogenous way: political, social, and economic differences account for uneven distribution of costs and benefits.
Second, this unequal distribution inevitably reinforces or reduces existing social and economic inequalities - "any change in environmental conditions must affect the political and economic status quo."
Third, the unequal distribution of costs and benefits and the reinforcing or reducing of pre-existing inequalities has political implications in terms of the altered power relationships that then result.
In addition, political ecology attempts to provide critiques and alternatives in the interplay of the environment and political, economic and social factors. Paul Robbins asserts that the discipline has a "normative understanding that there are very likely better, less coercive, less exploitative, and more sustainable ways of doing things".
From these assumptions, political ecology can be used to:
- inform policymakers and organizations of the complexities surrounding environment and development, thereby contributing to better environmental governance.
- understand the decisions that communities make about the natural environment in the context of their political environment, economic pressure, and societal regulations
- look at how unequal relations in and among societies affect the natural environment, especially in context of government policy.
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