SOCIETY STUDIES
RIGHTS SOCIOECONOMICS POLITICS OF FOOD
GENDER
POVERTY AND AID
POLITICAL ECOLOGY
GEOPOLITICS

Examining Political Ecology
Political ecology incorporates the relationships between
political, economic and social factors in respect to environmental issues and changes. Political ecology differs from apolitical ecological studies by politicising environmental issues and phenomena. It offers wide-ranging research opportunities that integrate ecological social sciences with political economics in topics such as degradation and marginalisation, environmental conflict, conservation and control and environmental identities and social movements. Political ecology’s analytics on social forms and human organisation interact at the environmental level. This discipline integrates aspects of anthropology, forestry, development studies, environmental sociology, environmental history and geography – querying the relationship between economics, politics and nature. Political ecological research advocates fundamental changes in the management of nature and the rights of people. Political ecology synthesises the central questions asked within the social sciences about the relations between human society and its bio-cultural-political complexity, via a significantly humanised nature. Political ecology, thus, encompasses the issues of the clash of individual interests and the potential for collusion that lies at the heart of political economics, and ecology’s concerns with our biological and physical environment and emphases holistic analyses that connect the more social and power-centred field of political economy.

Application
The Centre utilises aspects of political ecology in an attempt to provide critiques as well as alternatives in the interplay of the environment and political, economic and social factors. It has been asserted that the discipline has a normative understanding to do things better, to be less coercive and exploitative and to function more soundly in terms of sustainability. From these assumptions, political ecology can be used to: (1) inform policy-makers and organisations of the complexities surrounding environment and development, thereby contributing to better environmental governance; (2) understand the decisions that communities make about the natural environment in the context of their political environment, economic pressure and societal regulations; and (3) look at how unequal relations in and among societies affect the natural environment, especially in context of government policy. The Centre has referenced the Environmental Justice Atlas [ejatlas.org] for some of its application work as we have found it to be a useful tool in quickly examining political ecology matters. Applying political ecology to policy decisions – especially in the United States and Western Europe – will remain problematic; the separation of science and politics indicates the trend that juxtaposes the domination of nature and Neo-Marxist and Marxist theory of the order of things.
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ATLAS
[OPENS EXTERNAL LINK: EJATLAS.ORG]