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Re-imagining the scales, dimensions, and fields of socio-ecological sustainability

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article numberDOI:
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/04/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>British Journal of Management
Issue number2
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)220-234
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper critiques the two-dimensional (hierarchical–spatial) focus on scales evident in management and organizational studies, and the capitalist ecological modernization (CEM) paradigm that dominates current corporate and governmental approaches to sustainability. Our contribution is to propose a more complex and nuanced understanding of scale, which incorporates social, political, temporal and material dimensions. We propose a heuristic framework from Harvey, in order to evaluate different paradigms of socio-ecological organizing: specifically, the dominant paradigm of CEM against a social ecology (SE) alternative. We explore the divergent conceptions of, and relative importance placed upon, concepts of scale, grain, level and field in these two contrasting paradigms. Our analysis highlights the limitations and contradictions of the CEM expression of scale, namely its predominant focus on measurement and expansion through ‘economies of scale’. By offering an alternative conception of the links between scales, grains, levels and social fields, we show how this enriches the conceptualization of potential forms of socio-ecological organizing and opens up the potential for alternative modes of organizing socio-ecological sustainability.