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Nature-Society Theory

  • By: Juliet J. Fall
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Nature, it has been said many times, is a complex term that is both very familiar and extremely elusive. From “natural yogurt” to “human nature,” from “nature parks” to “natural boundaries,” the term has a range of uses so wide that a loss of grip on what it is we have in mind seems almost inevitable. Since geography framed itself as the discipline entrusted to study the relationship between humans and nature, the changes in our understanding of what nature is have profoundly affected what geographers study and how they study it. The prevalent Western geographical practices traditionally followed the modern dichotomy—presented as the commonsense understanding of the world—that separates nature from culture, or nature from society. In our everyday language, if something is social, ...

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