Sustainability and Social Justice

Political Ecology and Livelihoods

Document Type

Book Chapter


Political ecology and livelihoods studies are natural partners. Whether examining the influence of multinational capital on local agricultural decision-making, or the community-level impacts of conservation projects that materialize global discourses of environmental management, exploring how people live in particular places has long been at the center of political ecological inquiry. At the same time, livelihoods research is fundamentally integrative, focused on how particular people in particular places mobilize environmental, economic, and social resources to meet challenges to well-being and achieve various goals (Hussein, 2002; Valdés-Rodríguez and Pérez-Vázquez, 2011). Many ostensibly local livelihoods decisions and outcomes are linked to extra-local processes and structures (e.g. Bagchi et al., 1998; Bebbington, 1999; Carr, 2013; Hussein, 2002; King, 2011; Murray, 2001). There is little in political ecological inquiry that might not be approached through livelihoods, for as Scoones (2009: 172) notes, this concept can be attached to “locales (rural or urban livelihoods), occupations (farming, pastoral or fishing livelihoods), social difference (gendered, age-defined livelihoods), directions (livelihood pathways, trajectories), dynamic patterns (sustainable or resilient livelihoods)” and other ideas and foci.

Publication Title

The Routledge Handbook of Political Ecology

Publication Date


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