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Toward a Theory of Integrated Urban Ecology: Complementing Pickett et al.

Robert Mugerauer, University of Washington


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The analyses substantially delineating “integrative studies of large urban areas as bio-physical-social complexes” and the suggestions by Pickett et al. in “Beyond Urban Legends” (Bioscience 2008 58 139-150) provide an initial framework for a theory of urban ecology. This article intends to contribute to the project by: 1) improving the philosophical rigor of critical concepts and epistemologies; 2) making explicit the complementary theoretical and empirical work in urban ecology already being done that can be better integrated, for example, studies from outside the U.S. and uses of actor network theory; 3) bringing forward more disciplines and theories which successfully deploy modes of thinking, research procedures, and practices more adequate to the phenomena at all scales and levels of particularity, i.e., micro, phenomenal, macro, to fill in some of the empirical gaps in the middle, specifically those having to do with human values and the richness of the everyday lifeworld. In addition to what is available within complexity theory itself, chief among the approaches to be utilized are phenomenology, ethnographic thick description, and actor network theory.

Key words

biophysical-social systems; concepts; epistemology; theory; urban ecosystems

Copyright © 2010 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087