Political ecology and land degradation: how does the land lie 21 years after Blaikie and Brookfield's land degradation and society?

Samantha Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The application of political ecology approaches to the study of land degradation since Blaikie and Brookfield's (1987) book are notably scant in the academic literature. This brief review traces the way in which the field of political ecology has evolved towards a tendency to question the extent and 'narratives' of degradation. It illustrates how studies that have examined the causes of degradation have concentrated on single relationships (e.g. between land degradation and poverty or population) albeit recognising the mediating effects of other variables such as institutions; rather than examining the multiple causes operating at different scales as the political ecology approach advocates. The influence of post-structuralism has been strong and some suggest that philosophical debates seem to be leading towards a 'dissolution of political ecology' (perhaps only in its early form). Yet, there are calls for a return to appreciating the influence of political economy on land degradation. Some authors note that it is possible for a revived political ecology approach to benefit from the insights of post-structural political ecology, while still providing a basis for informed policy recommendations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-694
JournalGeography Compass
Volume2
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

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