Sociomeeting: Social metabolism: quantifying and analysing footprints

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Social Metabolism (SM) is a theoretical framework that analyzes human-nature interactions, tracing its roots back to the 19th century with contributions from Karl Marx, Serheii Podolinsky, and others. It gained prominence in the ecological and economic discussions of the 1960s and 1970s, particularly with works like Georgescu Roegen's "The Entropy Law and the Economic Process" (1971) and "The Limits to Growth" (1972). SM has become central in Ecological Economics (EE), focusing on the flows of materials and energy in social systems, especially the economy, examining inputs, stocks, and outputs including waste. Quantifying these flows is essential, utilizing methods like Material Flow Analysis, Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MusiASEM), Ecological and Carbon Footprint, and Energy Return on Investment (EROI). Research on the Balearic Islands' SM, including Material Flow Analysis from 1997 to 2019 and a multi-EROI analysis of Majorcan agriculture, demonstrates diverse energetic and economic patterns over time. The study concludes with a call for integrating quantitative approaches with a critical understanding from Political Ecology, to not only account for material and energy flows but also analyze their organization within capitalist logics.

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Juan Fernández Gracia

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