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    Modes of production, metabolism and resilience: toward a framework for the analysis of complex social-ecological systems

    Flaherty, Eoin (2012) Modes of production, metabolism and resilience: toward a framework for the analysis of complex social-ecological systems. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    The field of environmental sociology has undergone drastic change in recent decades, in context of a broader reconfiguration of the terrain of sociological theory and practice. Systems-based approaches to the study of human society, located at the interface between the natural and social sciences have since yielded to a fragmentary body of theory and practice. Subsequent developments such as the emergence of actor network theory, linguistic constructivism and epistemic relativism, have sought not only to question the status of scientific discourse as immutable authority, but also the legitimacies of positivism and macro-theoretical modeling as tenable research programs. This thesis suggests that much of this critique is misdirected, informed as it is by false dichotomies of theory and method which empahsise the separatism of the social, and the difficulty of normative analysis. Over the past twenty years, sociologists have begun to re-engage with systemic theory, albeit with a plethora of new anti-reductionist informants rooted in epistemologies of emergentism, complexity and critical realism. Parallel developments in Marxian ecological thought and human ecology offer further conceptual complementarities and points of dialogue, with which to develop new methodologies for the study of human collectives as ‗social-ecological systems‘. The objectives of this work are thus twofold; (1) to advance an alternative basis for theory and practice in environmental sociology, drawing upon the informants of complexity theory, resilience-based human ecology, and Marx‘s concepts of mode of production and metabolic rift; (2) to contribute to this largely theoretical body of knowledge, by operationalising the preceding informants within a specific case study; that of communal farming, or the 'rundale system‘, in nineteenth century Ireland. The ecological dynamics of the rundale system are thus explored through the imposition of a range of quantitative, archival and comparative methods, as an exercise in the explanatory capacities of the investigative framework developed throughout this work. This methodology rejects existing explanatory models which emphasise the role of 'prime movers‘ in the generation of differential ecological outcomes, toward an account which emphasises both macro-structural complexity, and the augmentation of adaptive capacity from below.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Modes of production; metabolism; resilience; complex social-ecological systems;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
    Item ID: 4389
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2013 13:11
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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