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How to Get Out of the Multiple Crisis? Contours of a Critical Theory of Social-Ecological Transformation

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The concept of transformation has become a buzzword within the last few years. This has to do, first, with the ever broader recognition of the profound character of the environmental crisis, secondly, with increasingly obvious limits to existing forms of (global) environmental governance, thirdly, with the emergence of other dimensions of the crisis since 2008 and, fourthly, with intensified debates about required profound social change, especially of societal nature relations. However, the term transformation itself is contested. It largely depends on theoretical assumptions as well as the plausibility and applicability of the arguments which are made. In this paper, a historical-materialist approach to social-ecological transformation is outlined by referring to a theoretically sophisticated understanding of 'subject(s)' of transformation as well as the 'object(s)' of what is to be transformed. Theoretical concepts like the capitalist mode of production, regulation and hegemony, a critical understanding of the state and governance as well as the term societal nature relations are key. Such a perspective contributes to a more sophisticated understanding of the obstacles and requirements of real-world transformation. Finally, the argument has implications for visions and strategies, i.e., an emancipatory and democratic shaping of social relations and societal nature relations.
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Keywords: Transformation; capitalist mode of production; critical state and governance theory; hegemony; historical materialism; political ecology; regulation; societal nature relations

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2016

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2017) of 1.852. 5 Year Impact Factor: 1.8.
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