Socio-Ecological Systems

Beth Schaefer Caniglia, Brian Mayer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Environmental sociology aims to overcome longstanding sociological thought that humans and nature are independent entities (Dunlap & Catton, 1994; Freudenberg, 1988; Kroll-Smith et al., 2000). Environmental sociologists have played key roles in advancing several strands of analysis that specifically articulate interactions between humans and their environments empirically and theoretically, including in the areas of human ecology (Borden, 2017; Dyball, 2017; Kroll-Smith et al., 2000), structural human ecology (Dietz & Jorgenson, 2013; Jorgenson & Dietz, 2015), and coupled human and natural systems (Folke et al., 2002; Kramer et al., 2017; Walker & Salt, 2006). However, environmental sociology has failed to fully integrate the interdisciplinary literature on socio-ecological systems and their characteristics into the central lexicon of the subdiscipline. In addition, the central toolset for characterizing and modeling socio-ecological systems—systems thinking, has been largely overlooked as a framework to advance environmental sociology. In part, the challenge to environmental sociology is the highly interdisciplinary provenance and developmental trajectory of scholarship related to socio-ecological systems. At another level, the target audience of scholarship on socio-ecological systems includes not only academics, but an array of practitioners and policy actors. This diversity poses challenges to academics and practitioners alike, as each community evolves theory and practice often in isolation from each other.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbooks of Sociology and Social Research
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages20
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameHandbooks of Sociology and Social Research
ISSN (Print)1389-6903
ISSN (Electronic)2542-839X

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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