The Social Embeddedness of Industrial Ecology
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The Social Embeddedness of Industrial Ecology

Edited by Frank Boons and Jennifer Howard-Grenville

Most work on industrial ecology continues to emphasize its roots in engineering and the technological sciences. This book differs in that it explores the social context of industrial ecology and presents empirical work addressing how cognitive, cultural, political and structural mechanisms condition the emergence and operation of industrial ecology. The empirical chapters are written from various social science perspectives and the editors have also invited reflective commentaries by authors with cross-disciplinary experiences.
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Chapter 8: Commodities, their Life-Cycle and Industrial Ecology

Timothy M. Koponen


Timothy M. Koponen INTRODUCTION There are similarities between industrial ecology and commodity chain analysis. I attempt to outline the practices that commodity chain research has developed over the past years, and to introduce or refine them for the industrial ecologist looking to perform ecological mapping and policy making in industrial fields. Foremost, commodity chains offer a link from the technical to the social that developed from the global scope embedded in World Systems theory and the developments in the social studies of science as to the social nature of scientific discovery. What they share with industrial ecology is the combination of technical and social analyses, in that both fields focus on the process of production as a sequential, spatial system. Four commodity chain techniques allow an understanding of production: Network Exchanges, Technological Lock-in, Action at a Distance and Locally Constructed Values. I apply these, in truncated form, to the case of an undifferentiated good in two production constructs: Zimbabwean agriculture in the 1990s, and present day American agriculture. The ways in which an undifferentiated good, maize, is differentiated by technical and social access and values is developed by the parallel comparison of the two distinct chains of production. WHAT INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGISTS AND COMMODITY CHAIN ANALYSTS HAVE IN COMMON Within the broad field of industrial ecology (IE) is a mandate to accurately map and assess the relationships – spatial, contractual and social – among firms in an industrial field. Industrial Ecology is particularly interested in: 193 194 The social embeddedness of industrial ecology...

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