Sociometabolic research in Latin America: A review on advances and knowledge gaps in agroecological trends and rural perspectives

Maria Jose la Rota Aguilera, Enric Tello, Olga Delgadillo

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    Current agricultural systems have reached a critical transition point in their biophysical performance, social and environmental impacts, and energy patterns. The theoretical underpinnings of transitions towards sustainable futures have been studied from different approaches. The perspective of Social Metabolism (SM) studies how dynamic equilibriums of society-nature interactions arise in complex agroecosystems characterized by specific metabolic profiles that set their capabilities and limits. Changes between these regimes are understood as sociometabolic Transitions (SMT).This article offers a quantitative and qualitative review of how these SM and SMTs have been studied in Latin America so far, pointing out: i) the main conceptual and methodological approaches used, ii) the geographical scales of analysis, and iii) the main periods studied in the literature review. After identifying the different ways to account for the SMTs in LA, it discusses the prevailing SM narratives on the region's economic development. We found a scarce effort in carrying out multi-scalar studies linking national data with local case studies and a need to spread and adopt innovative SM methodologies and indicators to carry out more complex and comprehensive research on how inequality has framed the LA's agricultural paths and set their prospects.

    Translated title of the contributionInvestigación sociometabólica en América Latina: una revisión sobre avances y vacíos de conocimiento en tendencias agroecológicas y perspectivas rurales
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEcological Economics
    Early online dateJan 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


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