Chapter 11: The Social Embeddedness of Industrial Ecology: Exploring the Dynamics of Industrial Ecosystems
11. The social embeddedness of industrial ecology: exploring the dynamics of industrial ecosystems Jennifer Howard-Grenville and Frank Boons We cannot know what the future holds, but we can know that everything we do (or say) contributes significantly to it. (Fell and Russell 1994, quoted in Ehrenfeld 2007) In this book, we have introduced the idea of the social embeddedness of industrial ecology and explored it in conceptual and empirical ways. In the chapters on Regional and Product Chain approaches (Chapters 4–6 and 7–9), authors have demonstrated empirically how cognitive, cultural, political and structural mechanisms condition the emergence and operation of industrial ecology. In Chapters 2, 3 and 10, and a series of intermezzos, other authors have introduced and reflected on perspectives from outside the ‘mainstream’ of industrial ecology to consider the larger questions of the role and place of social sciences in the field. Each contribution raises at least as many questions as it answers. Thus, they bring into the open a number of opportunities for developing the field. Furthermore, they reflect the reality of a field that has been multi-disciplinary from the start and self-conscious of its stance as a scientific and normative endeavour (Allenby 1999; Boons and Roome 2000; Ehrenfeld 2007). In this chapter, we attempt to take stock of the book’s various contributions and offer some suggestions for future research and practice that can continue to explore the questions raised. The opening quote captures biologist Maturana’s understanding of the natural and human world as self-organizing...
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