ABSTRACT

In describing and explaining the relationship between human society and its physical environs from a coevolutionary perspective, the considerations presented here deviate from classic approaches of environmental sociology which – except for some rare examples  – mostly address this subject from the unidirectional perspectives of materialism or constructivism. Here, the coevolutionary perspective provides a theoretical frame of reference which allows the integration of theoretical considerations from ecological economics into environmental sociology. Likewise, the coevolutionary theoretical frame of reference lends itself to enriching current approaches from ecological economics by an informed notion of society. Taken together, the approach of eco-cultural adaptation as developed here may allow new insights into the intricate relationship between physical nature and society, provide stronger explanatory power and predictive capacity, and represent a fi rst step toward a critical theory of industrial societies which tries to overcome the separation of sociological and ecological thinking.