Social Ecology is a critical social theory founded by Green author and activist Murray Bookchin. Conceptualized as a critique of current social, political, and anti-ecological trends, it espouses a reconstructive, ecological, communitarian, and ethical approach to society. This version advocates a reconstructive and transformative outlook on social and environmental issues, and promotes adirectly democratic, confederal politics. As a body of ideas, social ecology envisions a moral economy that moves beyond scarcity and hierarchy, toward a world that reharmonizes human communities with the natural world, while celebrating diversity, creativity and freedom. Bookchin suggests that the roots of current ecological and social problems can be traced to hierarchical (or more specifically kyriarchical) modes of social organization. Social ecologists claim that the systemic issue of hierarchy cannot be resisted by individual actions alone such as ethical consumerism but must be addressed by more nuanced ethical thinking and collective activity grounded in radically democratic ideals. The complexity of relationships between people and nature is emphasized, along with the importance of establishing more mutualistic social structures that take account of this.
Social ecology is less diverse than other ecological movements, but that gives it certain strength in coherence.
Social ecology rests on several related premises:
- Humans are part of part of nature, but have a unique social awareness.
- The environmental crisis is a result of the hierarchical power structures at the heart of our society.
- These power structures damage humans at least as much as they do the environment.
- By basing society on ecological principles our relationship with nature will be transformed.
- These ecological principles are egalitarian and based on mutual aid, caring and communitarian values.
- This transformation is to be achieved through radical collective action and co-operative social movements.