• Debra J. DavidsonEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Environmental Sociology and Policy book series (PASTESP)


In this chapter, the uptake of the concept of metabolism by the environmental social sciences is described, including attention to early theoretical treatments that continue to shape metabolic conceptualizations. This is followed by a review of empirical modelling efforts emanating primarily from industrial ecology, and the metabolic critiques of capitalism and unequal ecological exchange developed within ecological economics. The theory of Metabolic Rift introduced by John B. Foster is then discussed, and several critiques of Foster’s work presented. Finally, attention is drawn to recent scholarship that illustrates notable advances and the richness of social metabolism scholarship today. Several nagging challenges remain, however, including the ability to account for agency, and to give equal weight to both social and natural processes, which demands a deeper level of interdisciplinarity.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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