Table of Contents

The International Handbook of Political Ecology

The International Handbook of Political Ecology

Edited by Raymond L. Bryant

The International Handbook features chapters by leading scholars from around the world in a unique collection exploring the multi-disciplinary field of political ecology. This landmark volume canvasses key developments, topics, issues, debates and concepts showcasing how political ecologists today address pressing social and environmental concerns. Introductory chapters provide an overview of political ecology and the Handbook. Remaining chapters examine five broad themes: issues and approaches; governance and power; knowledge and discourse; method and scale; connections and transformations. Across diverse topics and perspectives, these chapters amount to a wide-ranging survey of current research, making the International Handbook an indispensable reference for scholars and students in political ecology.

Chapter 34: Political ecology of scale

Roderick P. Neumann

Subjects: environment, environmental politics and policy, environmental sociology, geography, human geography, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


Scale has long been an important spatial concept in political ecology. This chapter traces the various ways that scale has been theorized and integrated into empirical research in political ecology, from the origins of the field to the present. It examines the way wider debates over scale’s ontology resonate with some of the most recent political ecology that stresses notions of networked connectivity and mobility. Productive engagements between political ecology and both biological ecology (‘emergent hierarchies’) and Marxist geography (the ‘politics of scale’) are examined in detail. Such engagements have been vital to promoting a more rigorous understanding of scale in political ecology work. In turn, the chapter considers how political ecology scholarship has contributed broader insights on scale in light of conceptual deployments and refinements at the interface of power, socio-ecological dynamics, and networks of human and nonhuman actors. The chapter concludes that political ecologists have integrated the politics of scale into the field’s traditional interest in multiscalar spatiotemporal methodology to produce a political ecology of scale. This approach incorporates the key precepts of the politics of scale—scale as socially constructed, relational, contingent and contested—into an existing framework that highlights power relations and a dialectical approach toward nature–society relations.

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