We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History

For a Special Issue on
Social Metabolism Sources and Methods

Manuscript deadline
31 March 2023

Cover image - Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History

Special Issue Editor(s)

Dr. Andrew Watson, University of Saskatchewan
[email protected]

Simone Gingrich, Institute of Social Ecology
[email protected]

Joshua MacFadyen, University of Prince Edward Island
[email protected]

Submit an ArticleVisit JournalArticles

Social Metabolism Sources and Methods

One of the central tenets of historical research is understanding and explaining change over time. As a way of answering questions of environmental history, Social Metabolism methods use quantitative sources to create robust, extended time-series data to conceptualize and quantify how societies changed as biophysical entities through the exchange of material, energy and substances with their environments. The Social Metabolism concept employs a number of sustainability indicators and environmental accounting tools that enable scholars to evaluate the socio-ecological transitions of societies. This highly interdisciplinary methodology, pioneered in the 1980s and developed mainly by scholars working in Europe into a diverse set of sophisticated approaches has gained increasing importance in historical research. In the last 20 years, environmental historians have used this quantitative approach to highlight major trends in the flow of material and energy that structure resource extraction, land use change, trade, economic livelihoods, waste, and emissions. The field has contributed to a biophysical reading of industrialization processes of the past two centuries. In this special issue, we assemble a number of recent examples of historical social metabolism approaches. We aim at covering diverse topics and regions, and at displaying the broad applicability of the concept to urban, rural, national and transnational cases, as well as the links to other historical fields (economic, technical, urban history), and to neighbouring disciplines (ecology, geography).

Social Metabolism methods are primarily quantitative. Their application relies on the quality and abundance of data required to carry out detailed material and energy flow analysis over relatively long time periods. Thus, a chief aim of this special issue will be to highlight the types of sources that scholars have used, and the methods they developed to processing them, to identify key indicators and account for important socio-ecological changes in the past as a result of land use change, resource extraction, economic development, urbanization, and industrialization. By emphasizing the distinct features of the sources, articles in this issue will focus on the various processes of developing robust analytical frameworks, in addition to describing the results of the respective analysis. The ultimate goal of this special issue is to introduce historical researchers to innovative ways of using large datasets to uncover patterns of socio-ecological change over time, and provide ideas on how these data can be interpreted.

Submission Instructions

Please enter the special issue title, Social Metabolism Sources and Methods, when submitting your paper.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article

We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.