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Individual Paper: Revealing ecologically unequal exchange in our globalized world economy and its implications for social theory

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This contribution analyzes the global and temporal persistent effect of what has been referred to as ecologically unequal exchange: the unequal access of nation states to natural sources and sinks mediated through international trade and seemingly financial reciprocity. Our paper aims at bringing together natural and social scientists, theorists and programmers, critical social theory and quantitative empiricism.
Based on the latest harmonized global databases and quantitative modelling of flows we will generate new empirical insights and discuss their implications for society and social theory as well as how theoretical insights help us interpreting and understanding the empirical results. A multidimensional assessment of ecologically unequal exchange, i.e. flows of materials, energy, land, labor and value added, shall help to unfold previously unknown characteristics and extents of a phenomenon that is grounded in Marxist thought and world-system theory.
In doing so, we try to answer questions like: How do richer countries benefit from the inequality in poorer nation states? Or how is inequality reflected in global distributions of access to resources, time, and space? Is "efficient" industrial technology contingent on global social-ecological inequality?
Our results contradict the environmental Kuznets curve and other posits of the ecological modernization paradigm. Furthermore, they highlight they need for a broad rethinking of the role and mainstream perception of modern industrial technology and technological progress for achieving a social-ecological state which might be called "sustainable".
Recognizing and possibly finding remedies to ecologically unequal exchange has significant implications not only for social theory, but also for societies in very practical terms. In this respect, our main concluding point is to show the incredible implications of ecologically unequal exchange for understanding and changing social and biophysical structures of societies, for example, the need for biophysical degrowth, redistribution, and sufficiency.


Day: 2018-08-23
Start time: 11:15
Duration: 00:15
Room: ABF (210)
Track: - Other - (fill submission note below)



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