Towards a theoretical framework for analyzing integrated socio-environmental systems
Number of pages
SourceQuaternary International, 274, (2012), pp. 259-272
Article / Letter to editor
Display more detailsDisplay less details
SW OZ RSCR CAOS
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
This article addresses two major challenges for an integrated analysis of socio-environmental systems, namely the diversity of contributing disciplines and the wide spectrum of temporal and spatial scales. Archaeology, the geosciences and socio-cultural anthropology provide information relating to a diversity of specific time series and spatial distribution maps in order to answer questions relating to the impact of environmental and anthropogenic factors in population growth and migration processes. A model based on the key idea of adaptive cycles as it was initially developed in resilience research can be productively employed to bridge the diversity of disciplines and to integrate the diversity of data that they provide. This article outlines first steps towards recognizing similar patterns across a wide spectrum of empirical observations. It is exploratory in its attempt to trace these patterns across different layers of understanding the complexity of human–environment interaction. The case material considered relates to (1) observable ethnographic data on forager mobility and its simulation, (2) the demography of the Central European Neolithic, (3) the palaeodemography of foragers during the Late Upper Palaeolithic, (4) the societal reorganization by Palaeolithic foragers under climate instability, (5) the palaeoenvironmental study of lake Prespa in the Balkans, and (6) environmental responses to agricultural land use practices in relation to sediment flux in hillslope systems. With reference to these cases, an adaptive cycle model is outlined, with phases of growth, conservation, distortion and reorganization. The model helps to infer internal dynamics in the diverse environmental and social domains without reducing one domain to another while still connecting evidence from a host of different sources. More generally, such a model could help in understanding features of non-linearity, multifactoral relations, scale dependency and time-lags which seem to be typical for the complex dynamics of integrated socio-environmental systems.
Upload full text
Use your RU credentials (u/z-number and password) to log in with SURFconext to upload a file for processing by the repository team.