Dialectical Theory The fundamental assumption of social dialectical theorists is that all relationships—friendships, romantic relationships, family relationships—are interwoven with multiple contradictions. Social dialectics is not a single theory but a family of theories Montgomery and Baxter Like any family, the various dialectical approaches share some features in common yet differ in others.
As also noted, this outpouring of new work on social nature is associated with critical human geographers - and, as the chapters of this book testifY, particularly those of a Marxist, post-Marxist, feminist, antiracist, poststructuralist, anticolonial, and actor-network persuasion.
This association with critical thinking can, in fact, be traced back some three decades. For the counterintuitive idea of 'social nature' is not all new to geography - it originated with the first critical geographers like David Harveywriting in the context of public and governmental concern about global 'overpopulation' and resource scarcity during the mids.
What is new, though, is the volume, diversity, and incisiveness of the recent work on social nature. In short, this work is now at the point where it can be described as distinct and influential approach to understanding nature and environment. Dialectic antithesis partners lp it's not at all a unified approach - instead, it consists of multiple theoretical, thematic, and political strands - geographical research conducted under the social nature banner does share a set of important characteristics.
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These pivot on the claim that ideas of nature as either external, intrinsic, or universal are themselves social constructions, specific to Western social formations. To grasp nature's social character, we must therefore not only critique these ideas, but also find a way to see how, in both thought and practice, the natural and the social melt into one another.
SimplifYing deliberately, critical geographers have insisted that nature is social in three related ways: This is the same as saying that there's no singular, objective knowledge of nature, only particular, socially constituted knowledges, in the plural.
What's so arresting about this argument is that it can be applied not only to how nature is understood by people, governments, and businesses out there in the wider world, but also to how geographers themselves see and have seen nature.
It's an argument that's been made by critical geographers in a number of ways. It began life with the work of Marxists like Harvey and Neil Smith, writing in the s and s. Both were critical of the supposedly 'neutral' knowledge of environmental problems produced by the conventional 'human impact' school of geographical research, steeped as it was in the scientific tradition.
Many of these analysts were predicting imminent global resource shortages - of oil, food and timber, for instance - and calling for drastic reductions in population growth, particularly in the developing world see, for example, Meadows et a!.
Put differently, in the name of supposed 'natural limits' to population growth, poor developing nations were being asked to curtail their demographic expansion and conserve resources. In a biting critique, Harvey pointed out that there were, in fact, more than sufficient resources worldwide to feed and provision the entire global population to a high standard of living.
The problem, though, is that these resources were controlled by Western nations.
Therefore, for Harvey the 'overpopulation' argument was, in fact, a rhetorical cover designed to draw attention away from the real problem: To use Smith'sp.
Writing in the same vein, and at around the same time, a new, radical cohort of human geographers interested in so-called 'natural hazards' - like Kenneth Hewitt -began to argue that the very notion that earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods were simply natural events was deeply misleading.
By showing that hazards impacted disproportionately on the most disadvantaged sections of sociery, these radicals argued that conventional hazards analysis was guilry of two things: By social vulnerability, Hewitt and others were referring to the fact that it's typically only the poorest in sociery who lack the means to cope with the destruction caused by hazards.
Therefore, the 'technofix' policies so beloved of conventional hazard managers - such as building flood defences or temporarily housing those displaced by a landslide - failed to address the deeper issues of why certain social groups, defined in class terms, are more vulnerable to hazards in the first place.
In these Marxian analyses, geographical knowledges of nature are seen as implicitly and explicitly reflecting the wider class interests of the most powerful groups in Western and non-Western societies.
More recently, other critical geographers have argued that knowledges of nature also reflect other interests l: For instance, feminist geographers Cathy Nesmith and Sarah Radcliffe have criticized rhe gender subtexts of a good deal of ecocentric thinking.Intertrust Corporate Services (Cayman) L Elgin Avenue, George Town Grand Cayman, E9, KY Phone: Dialectic Antithesis Offshore, Ltd.
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This is the form of an antithesis (we are dependent) that are reconciled by a synthesis of the two opposing.