Chapter 34: Political ecology of scale
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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