Political Ecology: Nonequilibrium Science and Nature-Society Research

Brian Grabbatin, Jairus Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Political ecology has emerged as an interdisciplinary space where concepts from the physical and social sciences are utilized to understand nature-society relationships. In this paper, we explore how political ecologists have used concepts from nonequilibrium ecology to address concerns over the interactions between land management and livelihood practices. We begin by demystifying how equilibrium and nonequilibrium have been used in ecology, demonstrating the dialectical relationship between these divergent frameworks and how each impacts understandings of living systems. Then, we review how political ecologists employ these concepts to examine environmental knowledge production, as well as the role of livelihoods and anthropogenic disturbances in conservation and restoration. We also discuss how nonequilibrium ecology has shaped our own research trajectories and finish the paper by offering some reflections on the possibilities and pitfalls for political ecology's use of nonequilibrium ecology to bridge the physical-human divide in geography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-289
Number of pages15
JournalGeography Compass
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Social Sciences
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Atmospheric Science


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