Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Cultural ecology

Cultural ecology is ecology including humans. It studies the relationship between a given society and its natural environment - the life-forms and ecosystems that support its lifeways. It includes subdisciplines that are normally considered outside ecology, such as anthropological linguistics or sociology of knowledge. When combined with political economy, the study of economies as polities, it becomes political ecology - the basis of the perspective of green politics - and leads to such observations as the Easter Island Syndrome.

However, no political perspective is required to observe and to participate in the lifeways of peoples, and come to objective conclusions about their food, energy, resource and waste perception - such observations form the basis of energy economics.

Where cultural ecology departs is that it accepts a wider range of methodologies and is particularly concerned with the distribution of wealth and power in a society, and how that affects such behaviour as hoarding or gifting, e.g. the Haida tradition of the potlatch.