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Die Kluft — oder der beschwerliche Weg zwischen Theorie und Praxis Einführende Grundgedanken

Die Kluft — oder der beschwerliche Weg zwischen Theorie und Praxis Einführende Grundgedanken

In 1990 the working group “Human Ecology” of the Institute of Geography and Geoecology (University of Karlsruhe) organized a symposium with the topic “human ecology between theory and practice”. The aim was to construct a bridge across the natural and social sciences/the humanities and those organizations which would be able to realize the theories that human ecological science have developed.
As is known, the natural sciences have achieved great results by developing and researching the processes involved in natural systems. In the last few years it was the responsibility of the social sciences and the humanities to attain knowledge about the interactions between human attitudes and behavior, on the one hand, and environment, on the other. Now an attempt should be made to bring together all these theories which have been developed in research about human and natural systems and interact in an interdisciplinary manner.
With this symposium we have tried to avoid a scientific ivory tower in which science is imprisoned, and to obtain better cooperation between science, society and social institutions. Although the participation of those “actively engaged workers” was not as great as we hoped it would be, further the discussion between “theorists” and “practical workers” should be continued. This is indispensable for a better future — not only for us, but also for following generations!
Christine Schwarz

Umweltprobleme und Umweltbewusstsein als Gegenstand empirischer Humanökologie


Bioklimatische Untersuchungen im Lebensbereich des Menschen

The paper focuses on the study of bioclimate in the Heidelberg area by phenomenological surveys. A sophisticated methodology had to be developed because of the varying setting which includes variations of altitude (up to 500 m), of topography and of urban land-use. The biomonitoring extends over the whole vegetation period and includes spectra of more than 50 plant species, mostly trees and bushes.
The study is integrated in a project on the urban climate of Heidelberg. The advantage of this connection is the availability of 32 monitoring sites and of mobile surveys which cover the whole region, especially the urbanized areas. This approach enables to calibrate the results of bioindications with measured climatological data in a comparable spatial and temporal density. The data inventory is structured as a GIS (geographical information system)
Norbert Rippberger, Heinz Karrasch

Der Sprung vom Elfenbeinturm: Das Gülleproblem im Landkreis Vechta Kulturökologische Handlungsspielräume zur Ökologisierung

Mutual interaction between ecological, socioeconomic and sociocultural processes leading to environmental damage is shown, bades upon an empirical case study of ground water pollution and slurry (liquid manure) regulation in Vechta, Lower Saxony.
Explanatory models and analysis of environmental problems caused by mankind are not alone to be found in the natural science fields dor solely in research into ecological cycles. The sociocultural dimensions of human action must be taken into account in order to understand how the problems have come about, how the problems are perceived, and how feasible, ecologically sound changes can be initiated. On the basis of human and cultural ecological approaches within the social sciences, a methological concept to ascertain the cultural ecological frame of action is presented.
Parto Teherani-Krönner

Umwelt und gesellschaftlicher Wandel


Wesen und Bedeutung natürlicher Ressourcen. Ein Baustein zu einer humanökologischen Perspektive der Wirtschaft

I. Terminological and metatheoretical definitions
Ecosystem: in line with the origine of the term in biology, ecosystem is defined from a human-ecological and anthropocentristic point of view: some implications of this will be mentioned.
Natural resources: denotation of the totality of material conditions on earth, when viewed from the aspect of their use by human beings. The characteristics of natural resources as potentials and services will be discussed as well as their adequate classification.
Objectives: it will be argued that the use of natural resources is never an end (of objective) of human activity but always just a means to an end (production of goods or services, etc).
II. Main points to be considered in this paper
1.What primary objectives can be identified in current technological and economic activities, and 2. what implication does this have on the quantitative changes in natural resources?
Current primary objectives in the field of technology: reduction in the expenditure of raw materials and energy sources (miniaturization; new methods of energy production and energy transmission).
Global trends of material consumption with regard to various raw materials and fields of application;
Global trends of energy consumption with regard to various types of primary energy and fields of application.
III. Some conclusions
  • Considerations on the role of growing scarcity of natural resources in the longterm.
  • Finally, some possible consequences for environmental policy and “environmental ethics” will be presented.
Albert Hofmayer

Anthropo-ecological approach as a theoretical background for political decision-making on solving the ecological problems

At the beginning of the 1970s was in the Institute of Landscape Ecology of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences developed a theoretical and methodological model called the anthropo-ecological system based on the principle of interregulation between three subsystems (biosphere, technosphere, anthropospere). The most important principle between them is the interregulation between biological and economical reproduction processes in the system, based on energo-material and information flows as a background for development. This theoretical approach was later used for methodology and preparing background papers for decision-making. The problem was to coordinate the different approaches of specialized scientific disciplines of nature and social sciences. The background paper has to be prepared on three levels: (1) synthesis of different scientific disciplines and experiments, (2) synthesis from the point of view of biosphere (natural sciences), technosphere (technical and branch-economy); and anthroposphere (social and macroeconomy); (3) anthropoecological synthesis assessing and combining all three approaches in a complex background paper. It has to describe the problem, the solutions propsed in several variants showing all consequences. Every decision based on this material had to be considered as an “experiment pro future” and its results constantly followed in its results in the whole anthropo-ecological system as a kind of “circular process of cognition and decision-making”.
Jaroslav Stoklasa

Humanökologie „zwischen Theorie und Praxis“: emanzipatorisch oder entmündigend? — Ein Versuch, den Teufel an die Wand zu malen

Since the destruction of the environment is perceived as a existential and urgent problem for humankind, one might address to human ecology the claim, it should no longer waste its time handling theoretical matters but to contribute to the solution of the environmental crisis and finally show the politicians what they have got to do. This claim could mean, that in this difficult situation, the scientists should take the reins in their hands and that experts should make decisions instead of lay people.
I regard this opinion first as latently existing and second as erroneous or even dangerous. It implies a conception of science which is open to its instrumentalization. In particular, this claim means, that the organisation of a life-form should be derived only from scientific knowledge. Although it seems that the distinction of factual statements and value statements cannot be founded logically and although a majority of scientists believe in the impossibility of a non-normative science, I try to show that the distinction of facts and value judgements is pragmatically reasonable. This distinction can be traced back to an interest in rational communication, an emancipation. The historical process of differentiation of the political and the scientific system is oriented to these very values. Insofar as science only makes sense, if its statements do not claim the same validity as value judgements. If this nevertheless happens, science becomes an instrument of particular political interests. The experts keep the decision-making power and tacitly push through their own values which contributes to the incapacitation of lay actors. As a consequence of the existential dimension of the environmental problems, high expectations are addressed to human ecology. Since human ecology is a young discipline and in some aspects close to esoteric, anthroposophy and new age it is, compared with disciplines of a consolidated research-tradition, more exposed to the danger of instrumentalization. In this respect I propose to discuss the value-problematic and to reflect the role of the discipline in society.
Wolfgang Zierhofer

Humanökologische Perspektiven der Vermittlung zwischen Theorie und Praxis


Individuelle Regulative

Wie gehen Menschen mit Umweltbelastungen um? Belastungen durch Umweltprobleme und Versuche der subjektiven Bewältigung. Ein empirischer Beitrag zur Umweltpsychologie

This article considers the question of how individuals cope with problems concerning their environment. A theoretical concept is made as a foundation that seems adequate to operationalize the reactions shown towards environmental problems in a suitable way.
The collected data are evaluated on the basis of sex, age, standard of education and some other important background variables. The results give a interesting first insight into this subject area. Furthermore they allow us to formulate other hypotheses that may be investigated in future studies.
Doris Flor, Hanns Petillon, Reinhold S. Jäger

The human ecological significance of different types of knowledge

In this paper the widespread belief that the right answer to the ecological crisis consists in the exclusive fostering of explicit (in particular: scientific) forms of knowledge is questioned. The commonly postulated tripartition of the human psyche into three levels of consciousness, namely unconscious, practical consciousness and discursive consciousness, serves as a starting point. It is then shown that these levels can be associated with different types of knowledge: The first two with implicit or tacit, the latter with explicit or propositional knowledge. Reference is made to Michael Polanyi’s notion of the indispensability of implicit knowledge and the incompleteness of explicit formulations. The three levels of consciousness can also be paralleled with the evolutionary sequence of instinct, tradition and reason, and the example of agriculture is employed to discuss the significance of traditional practices in a human ecological context. It is argued that only with a suitable combination of scientific with other types of knowledge can we hope to overcome the crisis.
Dieter Steiner

Environmental Ethics as regulator for the systems of Man and Environment. A human-ecologic and system approach

Effective counterregulation for destabilized regional and global ecosystems and improvement of the interaction between man and his environment is impossible without a change of attitudes, values and lifestyle via a new or revived nature-directed ethic. Our existing ethic is purely social, much reduced and mainly effective within our own group. By 1933 the American ecologist Leopold had pointed out that we also need an “ethic of the land” to supplement our present social and political (democratic) ethics and that unless it is developed, progress from the existing man-directed ethics would also be lost.
The key concept, comprising nature and man is the “ecosystem”. Ethics directed towards nature and man are essential for human survival and part of the basic cultural outfit of mankind, as the ecosystems supporting man can only be sustained if utilization of resources and civilization-induced changes are sensible, sparing, considerate and responsible, not egoistic (anthropocentric, eurocentric), greedy, exploitative and short­sightedly stupid. An integrative, less domineering, contented more personal approach to nature may lead also to “environmental etiquette”, the new decent way to behave. Although distance from a nature, civilization, our education and manipulation by science and economy have conditioned our minds for efficient functioning within this civilization, rudiments of environmental ethics have survived and are transmitted in child education, folk customs and fairy tales. Natural systems have become destabilized particularly in the course of the industrial and economic revolution and its acceleration in the post-war period. Remedies connected with changes of mind must be civilized, totally systemic and immediate, because the critical phase, in which effective counterregulation is no longer possible is imminent. Intellectual insight as a base for such curative intervention is not sufficient, it must be tied to a strong emotional engagement to become effective, because the social, economic and political resistance to such changes is great. We should not wait for philosophers to present the new environmental ethics, its principles and commandments or golden rule, or till these have developed through spontaneous generation in a “greener Zeitgeist”, but work on it systematically along several paths:
Cultural retrospection and restoration of the “cultural heritage” (ethno-historical approach).
Study of the religions, cosmology and environmental ethics of the “primitive peoples” of the world and adaption and transfer of such cultural elements into our thinking (global, anthropological approach).
Evaluation of systems of philosophy, particularly integrative, holistic nature philo­sophy (philosophical approach) and
deduction of an ethic at system and principles from the environmental and human ecological sciences particularly from ecology (concept of the ecosystem) human ecology and from cybernetics as the general science of systems.
These paths should converge. Such ethics must be conceived for all levels of human orga­nization: individual, social and political, to become effective as the main regulator. The political level of ethics and regulation is particularly important and problematic. Unless effective regulation can be achieved here at the national and international level there will be violence from the people as in former social and political regulation. Violence might then be considered as form of regulation under extreme conditions of danger and hardly unethical. It can however be avoided by effective political regulation in time. Even so insoluble conflicts between the established social ethics which is man-centered and concerned with present conditions and goals and environmental ethics at a higher systemic level of man and nature, concerned with longterm stability and sustainability, which is new or being revived must be expected. Under no conditions however can environmental ethics be purely based on environmental science or biology. It must be also humane and human ecological in the widest sense, that is dualistic.
Liesa Nestmann

Wissen und Handlungsregulation in kulturellen Systemen

Knowledge and action regulation are intricately interwoven with each other. The critical question is why in real-life situations only certain domains of knowledge were used in the process of action regulation, although other domains of knowledge would be (even conciously) available to the individual actor. To understand the process of knowledge utilization one has to capture the interrelationships between knowledge, value systems, motives, and emotions. Moreover, one has to take into account that human actions are inevitably situated, i. e. embedded in social and cultural systems. Thus, the conceptual framework of the present paper is based on the idea of human actions as multiple-actions whereby the coordination between individual or collective action goals which are either rooted in domain-specific knowledge (e. g. ecological knowledge) or social and cultural knowledge (e. g. knowledge about social and cultural rules, norms, and value systems) is critical. Based on this conceptual framework one can interpret, for example, why particular individuals within particular social and cultural systems don’t make any use of their domain-specific knowledge in the process of action regulation and why they prefer, instead, the utilization of social and cultural knowledge, i. e. knowledge which allows them to act in conformity with other individuals, other social or cultural groups.
Urs Fuhrer

Positives soziales Verhalten und umweltgerechtes Handeln — Eine humanökologische Betrachtung der heutigen Umweltkrise

Maintaining or restoring an intact environment that is fit to live in is one of the most important tasks facing the whole of humanity. Since most of today’s environmental problems deal with highly complex phenomena found at a global level, it is increasingly necessary to achieve a global change in thinking and action. In order to develop and consolidate such a change so that it has long-term effects, it is, however, not enough simply to comprehend and grasp the significance of the scientific aspects of environmental problems. What is required, rather, is an exact analysis of present-day society as well as a deeper understanding of the individual as a social, culturally creative being whose actions cannot be viewed in isolation from his biographical and social background. A long-term solution is only possible in the interactive analysis of the relationship between individual, society and environment. Originating from the recognition of the fact that man as a social being, capable of learning and forming relationships is in principle prepared to cooperate and shoulder responsiblity, environmentally sound action is defined as a particular expression of prosocial action. Action of this kind that is led by human cooperation and social justice is however opposed to the values enshrined in society today and learned during the socialization process. In order to achieve sound environmental behaviour which is effective in the long term, attention must be paid to the following aspects:
People must learn to turn to a system of values which places prime importance on the welfare of the whole of humanity.
In order to enable people to achieve such consideration for one another, they must be guided towards responsible, pro-social behaviour which has a vision beyond that of the individual person. The essential requisite for this abitity is created in primary socialization and must be deepened in the further stages of the socialization process.
Karl-Heinz Erdmann, Hans Kastenholz

Personal holism in practice

Theoretical speculations in human ecology can be motivated by the conclusion that practical measures are required in order to ameliorate human society’s environmental problems. One such practical measure is to change attitudes towards the environment. The attitude of holism is one of the prescriptions which human ecologists, in their study of humanity’s relationship with nature, have proposed. This paper is a discussion of the possibility that researchers in those matters face a problem of consistency when separating their personal lives from their work on holism.
Richard Langlais

Institutionelle Regulative

Verhaltensänderungen bewirken?

Fallstudie über einen sozialen Selbstorganisationsprozeß mit teilweise ökologischer Zielsetzung, am Beispiel der «ShareCom» in Zürich, einer Genossenschaft zur gemeinsamen Nutzung von Gebrauchsgütern
In the analysis of five structured interviews, I try to give an adequate description of the constitution and growth of “ShareCom”, a co-operative society in Zürich. Its members have share of cars and other objects since 1987. To become a member you have to buy a share of the co-operative, pay an annual fee and a tax for the use of the object. In the case of cars all costs are included in a price per kilometer. Some members already shared a car for several years before the founding of ShareCom. Nearly all the 16 founding members knew each other as friends for years. For this reason they could rely on their common moral and environmental attitude. There was no need to specify the use of the objects. Meanwhile the co-operative grows and is open to anyone. It has furthermore a goal to build a network all over Switzerland which makes cars available not only in the core areas but also at remoter places in connection with railway or bus stops. The co-operative will no longer be a morally integrated group, but rather a more anonymous system of interactions. The informal social control by morality and various personal contacts will be substituted by formal rules. My interview partners all dislike strict forms of social control, but fear as well the exploitation of the system. In what sense could such a co-operative be regarded as a model for the dominant structures of consumption in a ecolgically sustainble society? We can hardly estimate the effect of share co-operatives on the attitudes towards the environment, because ecological awareness seems to be the main reason for membership. The co-operative offers a viable alternative to satisfy mobility needs. In principle the success of ShareCom is based on the reduced but nevertheless efficient use of resources by sharing them. The same consumption level can be realized comparatively cheaper. “It does not hurt” someone said. But the anonymous system is open to a materialistic definition of quality of life. It does not exclude the idea of having everything anytime at one’s disposal. Considering the use of resources we cannot be sure of having gained anything else but time, as long as consumption is only reduced and rationalized. Only by the shift towards life forms, which are no longer based on the turn over and disposal of material goods in the same manner as today, does the possibility of an ecologically sustainable economy become conceivable. The model of share co-operative societies could be a starting point and an episode which one has to go through on the way to these future life-forms. I maintain, that the concepts of human conduct, which presently dominate environmental policies and campaigns, obstruct the recognition of processes of social self-organization similar to the constitution of ShareCom, as forms of ecologically minded actions, which could be supported by organizations that share the same ecological aims. Too often we face the opinion that changes of behaviour have to be brought about. In this sense individuals are considered to be directable in a causal manner and their relevant behaviour is seen as isolated, regardless all the other related unique actions and routines, that build the pattern of the fabric that I call a ‘life-form’. Certainly in Switzerland the policies which are based on regulations and prescriptions are perceived as offences against personal freedom and amplify the growth of an extreme nationalistic-populistic opposition. Information campaigns and moral appeals suffer as well from a decreasing marginal utility. In this situation the support of self-initiated projects and experiments, could, in the long run, represent a considerable ecological potential. But it certainly cannot be a substitute for traditional environmental policies.
Wolfgang Zierhofer

Ökospezifische Sozialisation

Socialization is regarded as the species-specific form of the ontogenesis of the human behavior system, resting on a phylogenetically stabilized interrelation between adult members of a group and those growing up, destined to supply the latter with ecospecific knowledge, qualifying them to master their circumstances and making them fit for propagation. During ontogenetic development each person lives in a specific environment, including soil, water, air, climate, plants and animals, and also other persons and artifacts and mentifacts as well. As far as the reproductive and rearing ability depends on food acquisition and resource defence, many artifacts and mentifacts will refer to them. The usage of many most efficient artifacts, however, often has bad side-effects on the environment. The question is, whether this circle of enhancing efficacy and producing bad side-effects could be broken by means of socialization, when socialization itself must be regarded as a booster in this process.
Detlef W. Promp

Grundannahmen einer humanökologischen Perspektive — Mit einigen Konkretisierungen zu Forschungsmöglichkeiten in der Erziehungswissenschaft

From the multiplicity and variety of research fields in human ecology, the International Organization of Human Ecology (I O H E 1981) has started a systematic list of major research topics, one of which is the ecology of childhood. Psychologists, sociologists and educationalists have been dealing with ecological socialisation research concerning (early) childhood for a long time. In the meantime, the deficits and the onesideness of ecological socialization research have appeared clearly. The problems of socialization research must be seen in its object orientation and in the neglect of the aspect of meaning by analyzing environmental circumstances. Therefore it is our concern, to formulate a general ecological perspective that is able to avoid the theoretical onesideness and from which new and emirically fruitful themes and questions can be generated. Starting from basis of (philosophical) anthropology concerning the man-environment-relationship, we try to formulate six fundamental assumptions: 1. the double-constituency of human ecologists; 2. human ecologies as action-mediated mind-object-units; 3. human ecologies as totalities of material, personal, social and cultural elements; 4. human ecologies as results of the self-constituted realization of “world”; 5. the multi-perspectivity of human ecologies and 6. the spatiotemporal localization of human ecologies. With reference to these assumptions, the relevance and plausibility of the proposed human-ecological changes in ecology, as for example the start of schooling in early childhood.
M. J. Seifert, H. L. Gukenbiehl, R. S. Jäger, H. Petillon, B. Wolf

Werkzeuge des integrativen Ansatzes der Humanökologie

Authors related to I O H E (International Organization for Human Ecology) time and again have called the integrated approach the “earmark of human ecology”. The paper first of all asks why it is of such importance that it is called the earmark of a whole scientific realm (note: human ecology should not be called a “discipline” in the usual sense). The answer is that this integrative approach appears to be completely typical of human ecology since the basic paradigm of the latter, i. e. “human being(s) — outside surrounding world” needed for using the integrative approach is also a topic of this paper. Based on these prerequisites the main part of this contribution shows the different “tools” (i. e. the parts of the conceptual framework) really counting in this realization.
Helmut Knötig

Das Mensch-Umwelt-Verhältnis im Zirkel der Humanökologie


Humanökologie als Co-Evolution

The dynamic exchanges, that result from the systemic interrelationship by means of feedback effects between a biotic-abiotic environment and an included society imply a co-evolutionary progress. The gradual transformaton by man of an ecological niche into an economic nich finds its reciprocal counterpart in an institutionalized organization. The aim is the construction of a homeostatic equilibrium between intervention and exploitation for the reproduction power of the system without accident.
In the case of Egyptian history, the rise of the artificial basin irrigation in connexion with social differentiation of the society and the unfolding of the indispensable ritual context will be shown. The ceremony of canal opening in early dynastic Egypt, that resulted from a practical process, can be followed through until the placement of artificial basin irrigation by the modern practice of perennial irrigation. The canal-opening ceremony serves as an example for the co-evolutional development of a man-environment-complex towards a ritual-regulated, homeostatic equilibrium.
Wolfgang Crom

Human ecology — a strategy for the dialogue between mind, hand and nature

This contribution to the symposium debate at Bad Herrenalb about human ecology between theory and practice takes its standpoint from a meta level perspective of science. It consists of two parts: the talk in manuscript form and an epilogue, which is the summary of what was added by the discussion following the talk.
The main concern is with the task of trying to articulate what the humanistic contribution to human ecology has touched apon. Starting with a brief history of the department of Human Ecology in Göteborg, and pointing out some social critical and ecological value components, presumably both typical and special for human ecological groups of the time, then, briefly, various authors points about an evolutionary view of man, especially evolutionary epistemology and evolutionary ethics, are taken up. By partly paraphrasing the authors referred to the talk ends up with a suggestion for a choice between a weak and a strong programme for human ecological research, depending on whether the human is treated as extrinsic or intrinsic to ecosystems. The point of departure in the second part is a sketch, which is used at the same time as a comment and a response to the conference. Some distinctions, essential to a debate about science and action, namely between a “science territory” and the reflective, as opposed to the inquiring level of research, are used. The actual symposium is seen as a vital event at the reflective level. The conclusion roughly points out what might be a potential interdisciplinary cooperation between different strategies of research, parts of which could be distinguished in the participants contributions to the debate at the conference.
Ingrid Ekenberg

Die transaktionistische Weltsicht — ein konzeptioneller Impuls für die Humanökologie?

In environmental psychology discussions about a new theoretical approach have been going on for some time that may also be of special significance for further development of human ecology. Meanwhile, this “transactionism”, which is characterized by a radical holistic perspective, has grown into a paradigm of its own with interdisciplinary impact. On the basis of a survey by Altmann and Rogoff (1987), the auther refers to some major features of transactionism in comparison with other world views of the social sciences. It may be regarded as a special quality of transactionism that it offers the conceptual possibility to overcome that threefold dichotomy between individual, physical environment and social system which has been typical for various traditional approaches of human ecology.
Peter Weichhart


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