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Social Ecology

Society-Nature Relations across Time and Space


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  • The book comprehensively presents the current state-of-the-art of the Vienna School of Social Ecology

  • The conceptual repertoire of Social Ecology is exemplified by a cornucopia of empirical studies presenting exciting original research

  • The book differs from most edited volumes by its high internal consistency achieved through stringent editing and organization of several author’s workshops

  • Method Précis outline socioecological research methods and guide the reader to more detailed methodological publications through carefully selected references

  • Due to its nature, the book is suitable for classroom use, as a primer and overview of Social Ecology as well as its current research frontiers

  • Includes supplementary material:

Part of the book series: Human-Environment Interactions (HUEN, volume 5)

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USD 109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-319-33326-7
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  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
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  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
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USD 149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
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Table of contents (29 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-lxii
  2. The Conceptual Repertoire

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 1-1
    2. The Archipelago of Social Ecology and the Island of the Vienna School

      • Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Helga Weisz
      Pages 3-28
    3. Core Concepts and Heuristics

      • Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Karl-Heinz Erb
      Pages 29-61
    4. Transitions in Sociometabolic Regimes Throughout Human History

      • Fridolin Krausmann, Helga Weisz, Nina Eisenmenger
      Pages 63-92
    5. Beyond Inputs and Outputs: Opening the Black-Box of Land-Use Intensity

      • Karl-Heinz Erb, Tamara Fetzel, Helmut Haberl, Thomas Kastner, Christine Kroisleitner, Christian Lauk et al.
      Pages 93-124
    6. ‘Society Can’t Move So Much As a Chair!’—Systems, Structures and Actors in Social Ecology

      • Daniel Hausknost, Veronika Gaube, Willi Haas, Barbara Smetschka, Juliana Lutz, Simron J. Singh et al.
      Pages 125-147
    7. Why Legacies Matter: Merits of a Long-Term Perspective

      • Verena Winiwarter, Martin Schmid, Helmut Haberl, Simron J. Singh
      Pages 149-168
    8. Toward a Socioecological Concept of Human Labor

      • Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Willi Haas
      Pages 169-196
  3. Empirical Approaches to Socioeconomic Metabolism

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 197-197
    2. Long-Term Trends in Global Material and Energy Use

      • Fridolin Krausmann, Anke Schaffartzik, Andreas Mayer, Nina Eisenmenger, Simone Gingrich, Helmut Haberl et al.
      Pages 199-216
    3. More Than the Sum of Its Parts: Patterns in Global Material Flows

      • Andreas Mayer, Anke Schaffartzik, Fridolin Krausmann, Nina Eisenmenger
      Pages 217-237
    4. Boundary Issues: Calculating National Material Use for a Globalized World

      • Anke Schaffartzik, Nina Eisenmenger, Dominik Wiedenhofer
      Pages 239-258
    5. How Circular Is the Global Economy? A Sociometabolic Analysis

      • Willi Haas, Fridolin Krausmann, Dominik Wiedenhofer, Markus Heinz
      Pages 259-275
    6. Material Stocks and Sustainable Development

      • Dominik Wiedenhofer, Willi Haas, Michael Neundlinger, Nina Eisenmenger
      Pages 277-291
  4. Empirical Approaches to Land Use and Colonization of Ecosystems

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 293-293
    2. Livestock Grazing, the Neglected Land Use

      • Karl-Heinz Erb, Tamara Fetzel, Thomas Kastner, Christine Kroisleitner, Christian Lauk, Andreas Mayer et al.
      Pages 295-313
    3. Systemic Feedbacks in Global Land Use

      • Helmut Haberl, Karl-Heinz Erb, Thomas Kastner, Christian Lauk, Andreas Mayer
      Pages 315-334
    4. A Burning Issue: Anthropogenic Vegetation Fires

      • Christian Lauk, Karl-Heinz Erb
      Pages 335-348
    5. How Far Does the European Union Reach? Analyzing Embodied HANPP

      • Helmut Haberl, Thomas Kastner, Anke Schaffartzik, Karl-Heinz Erb
      Pages 349-360

About this book

This book presents the current state of the art in Social Ecology as practiced by the Vienna School of Social Ecology, globally one of the main research groups in this field. As a significant contribution to the growing literature on interdisciplinary sustainability studies, the book introduces the purpose and nature of Social Ecology and then places the “Vienna School” within the broader context of socioecological and other interdisciplinary environmental approaches. The conceptual and methodological foundations of Social Ecology are discussed in detail, allowing the reader to obtain a broad overview of current socioecological thinking. Issues covered include socio-metabolic transitions, socioecological approaches to land use, the relation between actor-centered and system approaches, a socioecological theory of labor and the importance of legacies, as conceived in Environmental History and in Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research. To underpin this overview empirically, the strengths of socioecological research are elucidated in cases of cutting-edge research, introducing a variety of themes the Vienna School has been tackling empirically over the past years. 
Given how the field is presented – reflecting research carried out on different scales, reaching from local to global as well as from past to present and future – and due to the way the book is structured, it is suitable for classroom use, as a primer, and also as an overview of how Social Ecology evolved, right up to its current research frontiers.


  • Socioeconomic Metabolism
  • Material Flow Analysis
  • Society-nature Interaction
  • Environmental History
  • Sustainability Transitions


“Highly recommendable for environmental historians. … An innovative feature of the book are the so-called Method Precis lessons. These insertions provide in-depth studies of several empirical approaches and explain the applied methods in a comprehensive manner, making a twofold contribution.” (Reinhard Ferdinand Nießner, Austrian Environmental History, Vol. 27, May, 2019)

“This volume on social ecology is the latest impressive outcome of almost three decades of interdisciplinary research. … lt is highly recommendable for both students and researchers in this interdisciplinary field. Tue School's core concepts, like the colonization of nature or social metabolism, are thought-provoking for environmental history.” (Reinhard Ferdinand Nießner, Contemporary Austrian Studies, Vol. 27, 2018)​

Editors and Affiliations

  • Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies, Alpen Adria University Institute of Social Ecology Vienna (SEC), Vienna, Austria

    Helmut Haberl, Fridolin Krausmann, Verena Winiwarter

  • Institute of Social Ecology Alpen Adria University, Vienna, Austria

    Marina Fischer-Kowalski

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Social Ecology

  • Book Subtitle: Society-Nature Relations across Time and Space

  • Editors: Helmut Haberl, Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Fridolin Krausmann, Verena Winiwarter

  • Series Title: Human-Environment Interactions

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Earth and Environmental Science, Earth and Environmental Science (R0)

  • Copyright Information: Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2016

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-319-33324-3

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-319-81485-8

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-319-33326-7

  • Series ISSN: 2214-2339

  • Series E-ISSN: 2452-1744

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: LXII, 610

  • Number of Illustrations: 47 b/w illustrations, 47 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Sustainability

Buying options

USD 109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-319-33326-7
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD 149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD 219.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)