Social metabolism

Social metabolism or socioeconomic metabolism is the set of flows of materials and energy that occur between Nature and society, and between different societies, carried out with a specific cultural form.[1][2]

Social metabolic processes begin with the appropriation by humans of materials and energy from nature. These can be transformed and circulated to be consumed and excreted finally back to Nature itself. Each of these processes has a different environmental impact depending on the manner in which it is performed, the amount of materials and energy involved in the process, the area where it occurs, the time available or the Nature's regenerative capacity.[1][2]

Although many of the studies in social metabolism are narrowed to the inputs and outputs of materials and energy of a particular State (imports and exports) because of the ease of access to information about commercial transactions,[3][4] social metabolism also addresses in detail other metabolic processes, such as those carried out in smaller societies, the services that Nature provides to humans, as well as the specific cultural form that people adopt when performing each process.[1][2]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Manuel; Toledo, Víctor M. (2014). The Social Metabolism: A Socio-Ecological Theory of Historical Change. Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-06357-7.
  2. 1 2 3 (Spanish)El metabolismo social: una nueva teoría socioecológica. Relaciones. 2013.
  3. The Weight of Nations: Material Outflows from Industrial Economies (PDF). World Resources Institute. 2000. ISBN 1-56973-439-9.
  4. Carpintero Redondo, Óscar (2005). El metabolismo de la economía española: recursos naturales y huella ecológica (1955-2000) (PDF) (in Spanish). Fundación César Manrique. ISBN 84-88550-60-X.
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