Analysis on Social Ecology

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    Within the current dynamics of the societies that interact culturally, economically and politically in more than 180 countries that make up the international community, we have the conviction that it is necessary to place our planet in a continuous state of observation, as the conditions have been created so that environmental conflicts do not cease to be issues or problems of little importance, but are already present as constituent elements of the daily life of the human being.

    It was believed that man was above natural conditions, with the idea and the purpose of taming that innate nature for his own benefits, not taking into consideration the very survival of the species, which forces us to adopt more “ecocentric” scientific perspectives and not as “anthropocentric” as those coming from classical theories, which have to do with this issue that occupies this essay.

    In this sense, ecological science has been dealing with the subject and already has a connotation that originates the social context as a study of the environment that humans develop as a response to the denied quality of life of the human population.

    Social ecology has a very specific framework within its study, because the environment is so linked to the social and cultural condition of man, and in that interrelation, is where this new science is born, which gathers everything related to the environment that we could say “natural” and at the same time all the scientific study carried out by the social sciences committed to the human being.

    To ratify the importance of social ecology, as a frame of reference for the study of the interrelation between nature and human beings, we must cite a definition that emerges from the ideas of several authors where ecology is defined as the specialty that deals with of transactions between living systems – organisms, populations and ecosystems – and try to explain them in terms of a few general precepts; especially those that have to do with the conservation and dissipation of energy and the maintenance of balance, and with adaptation, leaving for granted a definition in which the biological is the main sustenance of ecological science.

    By nourishing this science with different cultural theories to explain the phenomenon, we are forced to ask ourselves: how can ecology, dealing with what is common to all species, be useful for understanding culture and how can one understand the relationship between those sciences that contribute in the development of knowledge? and it is then, that to answer this question the “cultural ecology” is created, having as a main factor the culture, as the means by which the human populations are maintained in the ecological systems, giving humans a great ecological flexibility much more than to any other species, that is, while other species have very few ecosystems to develop, this marked and defined by the genetic inheritance, man has been able to live in all the ecosystems created in a natural way, in which his adaptation is subject to its cultural development.

    The basis of the study of Social Ecology starts from the axiom that where man interacts there is a social process and there is an organization, therefore, its purpose is to generate a new methodology that questions the way in which current organizations are structured, through an analysis with a different conception that relates it to the new scheme, in order to see man and his development as a powerful element within ecosystems.

    In this sense we consider some similarities and some differences between social ecology and ethnoscience. Social ecology is a constructivist science based on the cultural that deduces the relation man with the natural environment, studied systematically. While ethnoscience, could be defined as the study of contents and the organization of knowledge about nature in traditional societies.

    In these fields, if we add a whole social knowledge to the ecological, we deduce that all ecology is social, as political analysis from the dialectical point of view, in addition to everything that affects the planet as it is the economic, cultural, military, even religious and that is where we can suggest the relationship of social ecology with ethnoscience, because all science has an impact in the environment, be it natural (in its true meaning) or artificial (product of culture), and not as we want to see about the neutrality of it. All science impacts according to the interests of those who hold power and make science their property.

    Ethnoscience tries to explain the human phenomenon with its intrinsic characteristics the individual interacts as a social and biological being, emphasizing the organization of knowledge about nature in traditional societies, whether they are hunter-gatherers, horticulturalists, pastoralists or peasants in modern societies.

    Social ecology tries to explain the human phenomenon as an organization being part of the axiom where there is human interaction, society. Organizations are a dominant component of today’s societies; the great social changes in the historical process are based on organizations.

    A 1987 report characterized sustainable development as “development that meets current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, given as a fact, that the considerations that must be based on the present commit to the principle of a better quality of life, without the next generations feeling threatened.

    There are three elements (society, environment and economy), which intervene in a perfect triangle to ensure a prosperous society that ensures food and resources, clean water and clean air to citizens. Ecological anthropology throughout its short history has been framed by an idea: that the environment is the fundamental factor that influences the features of human society and its culture, that is, the environmental elements determine the manifestations created by man.

    Then the union of ecological anthropology, based on sustainable development, leads us to think about a structure based on a human-controlled environment, with the objective of satisfying human needs, establishing the boundary between what is possible and what not. From this perspective we have to define and theorize about the point that occupied us at the beginning, that environments mold cultures and a more refined affirmation, it indicates that specific environmental factors shape concrete cultural features.

    Finally, let us take as an example, putting into practice an empirical observation, it suggests that in describing how a way of interrelating ecological anthropology with sustainable development could be realized, in such a way that it could be conducted as follows: First, the technology used should be defined in the adequate use of environmental resources, then, the behavior patterns in the use of these technologies should be analyzed and, finally, it should be well established to what extent these patterns of behavior affect other cultural features.

    David Rivas H.

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