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A Dictionary of Human Geography

Noel Castree,

Rob Kitchin,

Alisdair Rogers


The indissoluble connections between what we call nature and what we call society. Like social nature, it reflects a non-dualist way of thinking. Erik Swyngedouw argued that analysing ‘nature’ and ‘society’ in abstraction from one another gives us a false picture. Inspired by Karl Marx’s metaphor of ‘metabolism’ and Bruno Latour’s notions of ‘ontological symmetry’ and ‘actants’, Swyngedouw favoured the neologism ‘socio-nature’ to focus attention on the ‘missing middle’ between society and nature. This was not a return to environmental determinism, but it did challenge the claims about nature being simply a social construction. Unlike some research in which the term social nature was favoured, that utilizing the term socio-nature paid attention to the material agency of the non-human world. See also production of nature.


Swyngedouw, E. (2003), ‘Modernity and the production of the Spanish waterscape, 1890–1930’, in Bassett, T. and Zimmerer, K. (eds.) Geographical Political Ecology 94–112.Find this resource: