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Researching Inequalities from a Socio-ecological Perspective

Kristina Dietz – 2014

The inequality implications of nature exploitation, utilitarian representations of nature and processes of (global) environmental change are substantial. In Latin America social inequalities are historically rooted in unequal allocation systems of land rights or mining rents. Current investments in natural resources or elements thereof tend to generate new or reinforce existing patterns of inequality. Despite these evidences and despite the increasing recognition of the social dimensions of environmental change, linking the analysis of social inequalities with (global) environmental change, politics and forms of nature appropriation and production is still incipient. Based on first empirical findings from the Research Network on Interdependent Inequalities in Latin America (desiguALdes.net) the aim of this paper is to draw conclusions on how inequalities can be researched through the lens of societal nature relations. The paper reveals ways to theoretically conceptualize and analytically understand social inequalities as historically rooted expressions of contingent spatio-temporal societal nature relations, taking different research fields and social theories as points of departure. The key fields addressed are environmental justice, political ecology and social and cultural anthropology. In addition, core analytical categories such as time, space and physical materiality are introduced in order to show how they operate in empirical analysis. The paper concludes with a summary of the main findings.

Researching Inequalities from a Socio-ecological Perspective
Kristina Dietz
Iberoamericana / Vervuert
Madrid / Frankfurt
Appeared in
desiguALdades.net, Working Paper No. 74