The International Handbook of Political Ecology
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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.
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Chapter 37: The best of many worlds: methodological pluralism in political ecology

Amity Doolittle


Methodological pluralism, or the flexibility to criss-cross traditional disciplinary boundaries in choosing the appropriate methods for the nature of the research question, is a critical element of political ecology. While rarely highlighted, this characteristic is a powerful component of the field’s appeal, liberating researchers from the constraints of disciplinary-bound thinking. The methodological choices political ecologists make are briefly considered, framing such choices in terms of qualitative, quantitative and participatory methods. Various considerations—from philosophical to practical—that adhere to various methods are discussed. The value of methodological pluralism is shown though a brief a case study of the environmental history and contemporary environmental conflicts in a small city in the northeast USA—New Haven, Connecticut. This case study demonstrates how divergent types of data can be used to support each other, to enrich our understanding with new perspectives and to provide a more complete view of the problem. Weaving together empirical data collected from multiple methods allows political ecologists to embrace complexity and uncertainty in their analyses; it is the antithesis of scholarship that seeks to generalize through ecological laws or models of human behavior.

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