Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 811–820 | Cite as

Pathways of rural change: an integrated assessment of metabolic patterns in emerging ruralities

  • F. RaveraEmail author
  • A. Scheidel
  • J. dell’Angelo
  • G. Gamboa
  • T. Serrano
  • S. Mingorría
  • V. Cabello
  • N. Arizpe
  • P. Ariza


While rural transformations are nothing new in human history, current processes of rural change occur under multiple forces at an unprecedented pace, involving profound and unexpected changes in land use and users, and rapid transformations in the metabolic patterns of rural systems. The present special section aims to shed light on current drivers and pathways of rural change by analyzing, under a common conceptual and theoretical framework, examples of new ruralities that are emerging as responses across different world regions. Within this context, this introduction presents: (1) common research questions of the six presented cases of rural change; (2) the general theoretical and methodological framework of integrated assessment of societal metabolism adopted to analyze rural systems and (3) the main contributions and conclusions that could be drawn from six context-specific case studies from Asia, Latin America and Europe.


Bio-economy Complexity Integrated assessment Rural systems Societal metabolism 



We are very grateful to Mario Giampietro and Jesús Ramos-Martín for their valuable comments. This article and the work of this special section are the result of a project initiated long ago, inspired by the lectures and discussions carried out within the rural system assessment group (, and received thoughtful feedbacks from other members. We would especially mention Talía Waldron, Giuseppina Siciliano, Jaime Paneque and Oswaldo Viteri Salazar. We would also thank all the co-authors of the special section. The first author of this article gratefully appreciates the economic funding from Alianza 4U to contribute to the writing of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Ravera
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. Scheidel
    • 2
  • J. dell’Angelo
    • 2
    • 3
  • G. Gamboa
    • 4
  • T. Serrano
    • 2
  • S. Mingorría
    • 2
  • V. Cabello
    • 5
  • N. Arizpe
    • 6
  • P. Ariza
    • 7
  1. 1.Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of EcologyUniversidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Building, Energy and Environment Group, International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE)Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy AnalysisIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  4. 4.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA)Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB)Cerdanyola del VallèsSpain
  5. 5.Department of Human GeographyUniversity of SevilleSevilleSpain
  6. 6.Programa de Postgrado de Antropología Social (PPAS)Universidad Nacional de MisionesPosadasArgentina
  7. 7.Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)QuitoEcuador

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